Known best for his National Book Critics Circle Award-winning nonfiction work, The Content of Our Character, this writer also had a career as a filmmaker, winning an Emmy Award for a 1991 documentary titled Seven Days in Bensonhurst.
After graduating from Coe College with a bachelor's degree in political science, he earned a master's degree in sociology from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and a doctorate in English from the University of Utah.
For nearly two decades, he taught English at San Jose State University.
He and his twin brother Claude grew up in Chicago, Illinois, as the sons of an African American truck driver father and a Caucasian social worker mother.
In 2007, shortly before Barack Obama's election as 44th President of the United States, Steele published a book titled A Bound Man: Why We are Excited about Obama and Why He Can't Win.