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July 21st, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Shirley Sherrod: 'I worked for fairness'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The agriculture secretary will review the case of former employee Shirley Sherrod, who resigned after controversy over a video about her work with a white farmer."]

(CNN) – A black former Agriculture Department official who resigned under pressure after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer said Wednesday the agency's decision to review her case is "bittersweet," but said she isn't sure she would accept her job back if it is offered.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that he will review the case of Shirley Sherrod, who resigned Monday after the video clip first appeared on a conservative website and later on Fox News.

In the video, Sherrod, the former USDA director of rural development for Georgia, seems to tell an audience at an NAACP function in March that she did not do her utmost to help a white farmer avoid foreclosure.

However, Sherrod later said the clip only shows part of her comments, and that she tells the story of her experience - from nearly a quarter century ago when she was not a federal employee - to illustrate the importance of moving beyond race.

"I am, of course, willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner," Vilsack said in a statement.

The USDA's decision is "bittersweet," Sherrod told CNN's "American Morning" on Wednesday. Watch Video

Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. cajr23

    at the very least it should have been investigated before any decision was made. by her own admission she was considering not helping the farmer because he seemed racist. i understand the thing with her father but she was working in a position that would require her to help everyone and if that bothered her, she should have not taken the job. that being said, she has had a good record since then so they should have asked her her feelings as it relates to today, checked her record and if no action is warranted, then so be it.

    July 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  2. rabb

    She said what she said...and if she files this suit I heard there is more stuff out there she has said and prabably cannot deny it.The NAACP,media and othere were wrong in the way they presented it...but uh...listen to what she said...the repeated superior comments are how most blacks feel about whites..period.I think it would be fair to say that blacks despise whites for the most part.Are blacks ever gonna love whites...are whites ever gonna love blacks..hmmm! Is afganistan ever gonna be cleaned up..hmmm.

    July 22, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  3. Jeanne H Barnett

    AMEN, Joy Johnson, Brent, MikeM & several others. Your comments express the right responses, in my opinion . . . why would anyone not consider the source & put the release of this video in the context of that public knowledge–I personally never accept anything Fox news or this particular man say because I have seen too much "partial reporting" and even "rumors reported as facts" as well as very "slanted to support agenda" reporting to believe they are an unquestionable source of anything—well, maybe the weather, if you verify with a second source. We should all be concerned that something like this could happen to any of us if we stand up & express disagreement with the wrong group, how words are repeated by another can distort the original intent, tone of voice, context of presentation, etc.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  4. Mar

    I agree with Mr Leger, there have been outakes on whites saying minor unfavorable dialog which was made out to be nothing as it was.
    It is sad that our country can not accept all people. I do not feel that I am racist at all, but will the world of black americans ever forgive us for the slavery issue? Can't we all come together as just Americans and not designate any color, weight, sex! I am proud to be white, but sometimes people want me to take on what happened in the 1800's. Sorry can't go back and fix it.

    July 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
  5. B. Curry

    I, an African American who strongly supported Barack Obama for the presidency, and who was so proud that I cried when he was inaugurated, am very grateful to John Roberts for allowing Shirley Sherrod to tell her side of the story. I, rarely, look at any network news these days because they have all become tabloid-like news industries. They throw the stuff against the wall and watch to see what sticks. No need for a factual investigation. No Walter Cronkites here.
    I have followed Mr. Roberts since his days at CBS. He is an investigative reporter, as are most of the CNN reporters. You all do Ted Turner proud.
    You should have, however, told the American public about Mr. Obama's surgery. I am referring to the orchiectomy.

    July 21, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  6. MikeM

    The White House, Ag Dept and NAACP should have their heads examined for taking a screed off of Fox News at face value. Whatever happened to "fair and balanced" and "consider the source"?

    July 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  7. Bill from Florida

    Another viewpoint. The only things that I can accuse Shirley Sherrod of at this point is that she threw in the towel way too early. The other is that she should have had a speech writer instead of winging it out in the open like she did.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  8. Tim Bueny

    I saw the full speech and the interview with the "white farmer." I realize from what the farmer said that Sherrod was very good to him and helped him save his farm. BUT...Sherrod created this whole problem herself when she explicitly said in her speech that she didn't help the farmer as much as she could have because she thought he was acting like he was superior to her being a white man. Sorry, Ms. Sherrod, lousy wording on your part. Just admit it and move on.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  9. Ivyanda

    As a African -American I feel Fox, NAACP, and Obama Administration destroyed this woman's career and should pay. I commend her for taking the high road. The President owe this woman a PUBLIC apology.
    Somebody need to get a backbone.

    July 21, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  10. nikita

    If I was here, I would get a lawyer since she was forced to resign on false pretentions. Also, I wouldn't take the job back since Obama backed the decision. No wonder he can't keep anyone in his cabinet and they're resigning on him constantly. Ineffective leadership at it's finest!!!!

    July 21, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  11. Joe Naborz

    I've been a Republican since IKE was president. The Christian Taliban and FOX News has destroyed the Republican Party. I've had it with this blatant racism from the Christian Right and FOX News. Obama has my vote in 2012. In fact, I will be voting Democrat until a new party rises to replace the whigged out republican party.

    July 21, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  12. Brent

    This will likely get moderated out by CNN, but believe CNN was just as much of the problem with this. They went to air with half of the story, only saying they tried to get a hold of her. News is too quick to air and not check up on the facts first. I was very disappointed in CNN this morning because they were quick to blame so many others for jumping the gun, but said nothing about them being a part of it.

    Whatever happened to checking up on a story before you air/publish it? I think all of the news agencies, including CNN, owe just as much of an apology to Sherrod, for not checking first, as the person that did the hatchet job of posting the video in the first place.

    July 21, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  13. Patti Lundie

    Kyra Phillips did a wonderful job of bringing this to the forfront. I would like Kyra Phillips to go further with this despicable outing of Shirley Sherrod by the conservative blog that posted the “highly edited” video of her. I would like to see Kyra uncover WHO did this and expose them to the world for the bigoted racists they are.

    July 21, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  14. No Context

    If a woman who's father was murdered by a WHITE KKK member can forgive and look past race, why can't others? The blogger should face charges! Why are these guys trying to start a race war? They are sick. Memo to any White, Black, Latino, Asian, Native American racists out there, The America I live in does not want you! We are not going back to the 50's, 60's or 70's! We are a nation of good people.

    July 21, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  15. Marilyn Bates

    Take it to them, Ms Sherrod. Glenn Beck, Fox News (barely reporting this story thie morning), USDA, NAACP. Its time this country operated on truth rather than spin. It doesn't matter if you have "an agenda" Truth is truth.

    July 21, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  16. Bette

    This situation is finally bringing out a conversation on hidden racism that needs to happen. Shirley is a brave woman sharing her story with others and fell victim to the racist people who will stop at nothing to move their agendas forward. This may be the best thing that ever happened to our country as we can now start to have a more honest conversation about hidden racism. She is correct that we need to move beyond race as we should consider all people equal.

    July 21, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  17. Joy Johnson

    I am embarrassed and ashamed that the media, NAACP, and the administration failed to follow the most basic rules of decency (and journalism!) before rushing to judgment about Shirley Sherrod; namely,
    1) Consider the source...would a sound bite put on Youtube by an extreme conservative blogger be considered reliable, especially out of context.
    2) Verify...why did no one contact Ms. Sherrod for her side of the story before publicly condemning her. Why were no other sources investigated to see what kind of an administrator she has been in the last 25 years? Why didn't anyone review the entire speech before passing judgment?
    3) Assume she was "innocent" until research could prove otherwise.
    4) Let the accused speak before asking for her resignation! Even General McChrystal, whose statements were printed in a published journal, was invited to the White House to explain himself before being relieved of duty.
    3) Defend and protect free speech. Ms. Sherrod's comments were refering to a transformative experience 25 years ago, an experience that has informed her life and actions since. It is indefensible to say she should not have said what she did because it "could" cause controversy (as her supervisor stated, she'd be "on Glenn Beck" by the evening). If we allow right wing talk show hosts to dictate what can be said, we are in serious trouble!

    July 21, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  18. Rodney J. Leger

    Where you're at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? If this would have been a white person saying what Sherrod said you'd be jumping out of the woodwook.

    July 21, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  19. Victoria Moreau

    the president is to blame if for nothing else but bringing the CHANGE He espossed! He is an inaffected posser like soooo many before him..Ms. Sherrod should SUE Fox or the entities who spliced and whoever released the incomplete tape.and the director of her former post really needs to go,HE is no leader!!!!!!!!!1

    July 21, 2010 at 9:20 am |
  20. Derrick

    Regrettably, in the battle of racism and politics there will always be collateral damage. Presumptuous decisions only reveals ignorance. Martin Luther King was never “snookered.” Thank you CNN team for keeping the world honest.

    July 21, 2010 at 9:13 am |