If you follow the news at all, you’ve more likely than not heard the name Shirley Sherrod. While you’re probably aware of the veritable circus being made out of comments she made at an NAACP event, you might be a little foggy on the whole story. I know I was.
Basically, Shirley Sherrod was the USDA Director of Rural Development for the state of Georgia until she quit abruptly last week just before a media storm of epic proportions. Her resignation came about after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted excerpts on July 19 of a video taken of Sherrod speaking about the importance of overcoming personal prejudices.
Sherrod’s comments, which were pretty obviously taken out of context in an edited two minute clip, come off as sounding about as racist as they come when speaking about her laissez faire attitude in helping white farmers because of their skin color. Sherrod was pressured to resign and ultimately did so via an e-mail sent from her BlackBerry on the side of a road.
Sherrod made headlines Tuesday morning after a video clip surfaced from a speech she made in March to an NAACP forum recounting her meeting with a struggling white farmer who came to her for help in 1986.
“Here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land,” Sherrod said about her feelings 24 years ago. “So, I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough so that when he (went to state or federal officials) he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him.”
Sherrod told CNN on Tuesday that the clip was taken out of context. She said she described the decades-old incident with the white farmer because she has since come to realize her mistake. “Working with him helped me realize the issue is not about race, it’s about those who have and those who have not,” she said.
And now the backlash has begun.
Howard Dean, former Democratic National Committee Chairman (and former presidential candidate), is making strong racist claims against Fox News, whose Bill O’Reilly led the charge in smearing Sherrod’s name.