Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Shelby Steele minces no words when he describes the current Black Lives Matter and other racial protests—they are a “distraction” from the real issues facing the Black community.
Shelby, a Hoover fellow at Stanford since 1994, speaks from first-hand experience during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. On Tuesday, Steele spoke with Hoover Director Tom Gilligan during one of its virtual briefings on Race in America. That’s one of his areas of expertise.
He contrasted what he described as the great moral causes of the 1960s—civil rights for Blacks, equal opportunities for women and the Viet Nam War—with the racial unrest of today. His view is the protesters really don’t know what they want and what they stand for. He believes there has been significant progress over the last 60 years in the civil rights and women’s opportunities areas. There’s still more to be done.
Steele said that during the 1960s non-violent protests marchers dressed in their Sunday best and organizers insisted that people were polite or they were asked to leave.
He readily identified the No. 1 “authentic challenge—the absolute collapse of the Black family. There’s no hope if Black America does not address this problem.”
The collapse of the Black family stems directly from the Great Society social programs that began in the 1960s. There’s been multiple generations of Black children raised without a father in the house.
Bob Woodson, another Black man, established the Woodson Center in Washington D.C. in 1991 to help under-served communities help themselves. In an interview, he pointed out that throughout centuries of slavery and then after the civil war Black children were raised by intact families with a mom and a dad. That was true for 70 percent of Black children through the 1950s and into the 1960s. Today 75% of Black babies are born out of wedlock.
When asked about the Left and its appeal to Black voters, he said that they needed the Blacks to be “victims” so they can expand the government programs. He suggested the way to have productive conversations with Black leaders was to acknowledge the centuries of suffering and recognize their talent for survival in awful conditions. The Civil Rights movement “transformed the moral character of Western Civilization.”
Steele said the Black community needs to focus on intact families and education. If a 4th grader cannot read, he or she has an extremely limited future. Steele said his grandfather was born a slave and he would not take reparations if they were offered.
As a conservative, his view of the solution centers on individual freedom, individual freedom and responsible citizenship.
He also labeled the New York Times’ 1619 Project as “politicizing history.” The project rewrites American history from the date the first slaves arrived from Africa.
It’s being countered by the Woodson Center’s 1776 Group of distinguished Black scholars and conservatives that is embracing the United State history.
In the conclusion of last Thursday’s blog, I noted how complicated the issue is with so many layers. My opinion from last week has not changed. Quality information from a variety of viewpoints is always helpful.