Shelby, a Hoover fellow at Stanford since 1994, speaks from first-hand experience during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Earlier this month, Steele spoke with Hoover Director Tom Gilligan during one of its virtual briefings on race in America. It'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 Vietnam 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 civil rights and opportunities for women. There's still more to be done.
Steele said that during the 1960s non-violent protest 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% 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 Black people to be "victims" so they could 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 fourth-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 retells 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 States history.
In the conclusion of last week's blog, I noted how complicated the issue is with so many layers. My opinion has not changed. Quality information from a variety of viewpoints is always helpful.
I watched NBC's "Conversation on Race and Sports in America" that aired Monday evening. It featured two panels of golfers from the American Century Championship held at Edgewood Tahoe on the shore of Lake Tahoe.
Panelists included Stephen Curry, Charles Barkley, golf long-drive champion Troy Mullin, Hall-of-Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, retired shortstop Jimmy Rollins, tennis champion James Blake, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (the only white man) and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn.
To a man, they all described "having the talk" with their sons about how to react so they stay alive when they are stopped by police. Rollins described being stopped on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle and having eight guns trained on him here in the East Bay.
Blake told about being tackled by a police officer while he was walking down the street. He survived that encounter and asked that the officer be fired. Instead the officer was docked five vacation days -- what Blake was told was the standard penalty for that type of violation.
For most of the panelists, they said that this type of incident has broken trust between the Black community and the police departments. It's sad to see what a few bad officers have done to a noble profession.
Barkley, in his usual blunt manner, summed it up saying get over the past -- the racism has been going on for 400 years and the situation is much better now with a need for more improvement. He and others stressed education as the key, a sentiment that Curry shared as he and Rollins emphasized voting at every level. There was also a uniform call for police reform (Blake pointed out what awful marketing "Defund the Police" is).
What would be interesting is a panel with Steele, Barkley, Rollins and Curry.