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July 22nd, 2010
05:49 AM ET

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After her father was shot to death by a white man, ''I decided to stay in the South and work for change,'' Shirley Sherrod said.

After her father was shot to death by a white man, ''I decided to stay in the South and work for change,'' Shirley Sherrod said.

Shirley Sherrod: Dad was killed by white farmer

(CNN) – Shirley Miller Sherrod has spent most of her life fighting injustice.

On the Baker County, Georgia, farm where the Miller family grew corn, peanuts, cotton and cucumbers and raised hogs, cows and goats, oldest daughter Shirley despised the work.

"I swore I would never have anything to do with a farm past high school," she said Wednesday with an easy chuckle. "I would talk to the sun as I picked cotton and picked cucumbers and worked out there in that hot field, and [say], 'This is not the life for me.' I didn't want to have anything to do with agriculture ever again."

On the night in 1965 when her father, Hosie Miller, a black man and a deacon at Thankful Baptist Church, was shot to death by a white farmer in what ostensibly was a dispute over a few cows, Sherrod - then 17 years old - changed her mind.

"I decided to stay in the South and work for change," said Sherrod, now 62, who believes her father's killing was more about a Southern black man speaking up to a white man than about who owned which animals. The all-white grand jury didn't bring charges against the shooter. Read more

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he has apologized to Sherrod, who resigned from her Agriculture Department position under pressure this week over a video showing her making comments about a white farmer.

Vilsack said he told Sherrod by phone that the USDA would have another position for her should she want it. Sherrod answered that she needed some time to think about it, Vilsack said.

Program note: Will Shirley Sherrod reconsider working again for the USDA? She'll join us live in the studio this morning at 6:30 a.m. ET.

Sound off: We want to hear from you this morning. Add your comments to the LIVE Blog below and we'll read some of them on the show.

Filed under: LIVE Blog • Top Stories
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    With immigrations our government is running on the old saying that laws are made to be broken should we obey our laws with immigration or break them .

    July 22, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  2. Joan

    Actually Ms. Sherrard is not really handling this whole situation very well either. She has a right to criticize others for not knowing the whole story and rushing to judgement about her but then she goes on national television and does the same thing. She legitimately claims she was thrown under the bus by the Dept. of Agriculture and the NAACP. Then she turns around and criticizes the government and says they forced her to resign without really knowing all of the facts. The fact that she is on TV constantly now airing her griefs on every show that will listen is making me wonder about her motivations now too. She has gotten her point across and now she should privately talk to those who have offered her a job and decide her future steps. She should definitely sue that Brietbart jerk who did this all on purpose. It is a shame that many Conservatives still believe his original blog. How narrow minded are they? The right knew the White House had a very important monumental bill signing this week and they successfully snookered everyone, especially the media, into almost ignoring it. Watching you guys is like a soap opera.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  3. Jane

    Where is all this concern and digging for the truth when it comes the NAACP (and Democrats in general) claims that the Tea Party is racist? where is the digging for the truth when a few black Congressmen claimed that racial slurs were shouted at them as they walked to the Capitol? People at the rally claimed that didn't happen, yet CNN and other media outlets immediately took the word of these black Congressmen as fact.

    How about the fact that all sorts of nasty and vile signs about George Bush were carried by liberals at rallies, yet no concern by the media was shown then. Only now that we have a 50% black President, does the media suddenly get concerned about what kinds of signs are carried at rallies?

    July 22, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  4. John Kipp

    MeLon is right about Racism.Sad,but true.Somewhere between FOX and CNN lies the truth!

    July 22, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  5. Jackie

    Personel to John Roberts, Have you looked in a mirror lately. Are you going to put up with the Dan Rather make-over, on the way out.
    Loved the older John.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  6. Jane

    It's interesting how many of the posters here are quick to jump on the "blame Fox first" bandwagon. As Howard Kurtz has pointed out, Fox did not air this story until AFTER Ms. Sherrod was fired by the administration. There are many out there with this knee jerk hating of Fox News, that they are blind to reality.
    Andrew Breitbart may have aired just a clip of the NAACP meeting (something that liberal bloggers and media outlets do all the time), but no one stopped the NAACP or the administration from viewing the full video or doing due diligence before firing Ms. Sherrod. it seems the defenders of Barack Obama will do so no matter what kinds of actions his administration take.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  7. vic nashville tn

    Past 48 hrs I have seen the real journalism. When this news broke FOX was complaining other network doesn’t want to cover this story. CNN when to the bottom of the story told us the truth

    Excellent job CNN

    July 22, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  8. hilroy

    John King, John King, John King and his right leaning program provided this dirt bag Andrew Breitbart lots of time to spew his hateful rhetoric.

    John King and CNN should apologize also for this garbage just to get ratings.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  9. Jane

    The media takes things out of context all the time. They take snippets of what someone says and play the clip over and over and over, despite the true context not being revealed. I can think of the Trent Lott story and the George Allen stories specifically. Also, the comments by Rep. Joe Barton made to BP have also been edited. We rarely saw the rest of his statement where he said that BP needed to be held accountable and that they needed to pay for the damage that they caused. However, the media only played the small snippet here he apologized for the heavy handed tactics used by this White House. The story was spun in the way that certain media outlets wanted it portrayed.

    I also recall the incessant stories about the so called US Attorneys scandal and Alberto Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzalez resigned from his position due to these stories and charges. No legal charges have been brought against Mr. Gonzalez, but so far, I've not heard any apologies from the media outlets who blew the issue way out of proportion at the time.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  10. hilroy

    After all the problems this lady has gown through she is now getting hate mail. I have no hope of racial healing but I do unfortuntely believe we are headed foir a nasty and violent racial conflagration.

    Her dad was killed by a racist white man and crosses being burned on her lawn. The sad thing is that the innocent and non-racist people will suffer greatly in bad racial violence.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  11. Peyton

    Why isn't the media going after this morally corrupt blogger who continues to be dishonest? It was the news media that gave him a free pass to ruin this woman so why aren't you going after him for setting you up?

    July 22, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  12. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    Hey guys I'm just saying with all his/her writings especially about those punks bullying the young girl to the point of death, which is divisive in itself, where he/she said they should not be held responsible is not unifying the people of this country!

    July 22, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  13. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Mrs . Sherrod more then has the right for holding someone accountable just because these people work on the federal level dosnt mean they shouldf get off scott free when they screw up .

    July 22, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  14. Maggie

    Hi, I listened to the critique of the Sherrod mess and I notice you lay all the blame for everything that transpired at the feet of the administration, but where is the responsibility of the news organizations that put stuff out on the airwaves without thoroughly knowing the content? They are as responsible for this women's bad day as much and more as anything the government did. The government makes the same mistake the rest of us do, and that is we trust you guys, but then we should know better.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  15. Don Straub-Euclid, Ohio

    Applause and cheers to those working to rehabilitate wildlife affected by the Gulf oil spill. What a wonderful, worthwhile effort!

    July 22, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  16. William Gillespie

    Sharrod's unedited speech includes a very pertinent fact about racism in America. It can be found in many history books that have not been written with white wash. The rich folks living in earlier America were drastically outnumbered by the people they kept as servants and laborers and the like. As a result of their fear of rebellion they employed the age old tactic of "divide and conquer" by creating the first laws criminalizing the intermingling of black and white poor people in public and elsewhere so as to prevent them from overwhelming the unfounded control that the rich wielded. This was eventually followed by the rich creating the idea of a "middle class" to buffer themselves from the overwhelming numbers of poor folks whose numbers in comparison drove the fear of rebellion into the mind's of the rich. Sharrod's unedited speech is intelligent and moving and the several hundred year old tactics of the rich obviously continue to plague the intelligence of America. I know I'm not alone in realizing this. The question is how to help others who remain ignorant to the facts and realities of our history to wake up see the truth.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  17. Jeff

    I guess this shows how our system works at times. We rely more on a few minutes of video posted on the web, than we do talking to the individual. This women has certainly faced an injustice, its sad to think that the administration for change did just that, they changed this womens life, and not all for the better. I'm glad to know that somebody caught it and did the right thing.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:22 am |
  18. Gretchen

    As a person who have watched CNN to get the majority of my news,I am so dissapointed in the way CNN has behaved in the last few days.Granted the Sherrod story is compelling,but it was certainly over done. To have a president ,who has actually achieved one of his most great promises ,that most of all americans wanted was wall street reform.I was completley astonished by the direspect and disregard of this momentous feat and accomplishment,that really most americans wanted,espeacially after all the bail-outs of banks etc..,.Also,I've noticed as well as friends of mine have noticed that CNN has tried to some how blame President Obama for Mrs Sherrods firing.When will you people get it,he's the President what happened to mrs.sherrod was awful but it's small potatoes considering all that the president have on his plate,why would he apologize for something he did not do.
    As a long time viewer of CNN i would hope that you would not stoop to the levels of fox news in the relentless downgrading of our President.Enough is Enough.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  19. Jackie

    It is amazing to me how CNN, (who I have always respected it) is becoming all about sensationalism. ENOUGH with the Sherrod story already. First of all, you dismissed the fact that she admitted to putting little effort to help the farmer at some point. Second, where is the media responsibility in this mess – day after day the story has consumed your airtime. Are there no other important issues going on in the country?

    July 22, 2010 at 8:17 am |
  20. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Mrs .Sherrods quick judgment makes two strikes by the White house with race but the real learning lesson from this is that our leaders are jumping the gun to judgment and just maybe we should be more careful when the administration passes judgment on other country's can we really trust our government to use due proses over seas .

    July 22, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  21. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    Last night in her opening statement Campbell Brown, said in passing, that Sherrod's story has overshaddowed the real story, Financial Reform! Ms. Sherrod said to today "...she doesn't understand why they did this". The is a newly minted and classic example of how Fox News and associates opperates. It has detracted from very important reform. Earlier this week, it was racism in the Tea Party and it was shown to be so with the ouster of Williams. When did the Tea Party get rolling? It was during Health Care Reform! Fox News is not reporting the news, they are MAKING the news and thus crossed over the line of legitimate journalism based on facts. Yellow and tabloid journalism sells (as polls indicate) but is not for the good of the people. The wise news organizations will always take the high road as best they can by reporting on facts and NOT conjectures. Keep up the good work CNN, and be wary of Fox News 'traps'. There will be many more coming up through the 2010 elections.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:02 am |
  22. vickie votaw

    ditto with dan in lafayette, in.- ( to william) you are one of those who don't look at the whole picture!!! .

    July 22, 2010 at 8:01 am |
  23. art

    @ william

    Why would wisdom and change have erred on the side of being conservative? Your insight speaks to the folly of staying in one's comfort zone. Wisdom and change comes from busting out of one's self-imposed prison.

    As for your observation of anger, you've missed the mark again. What you're seeing is a woman who completely understands that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent, and practices it. You're simply seeing your own reflection in her still waters.

    July 22, 2010 at 8:00 am |
  24. Pauly

    The right wing propanda machine has achieved what they wanted. To get the story directed away from the racist elements in the Tea Party. The NAACP never called the Tea Party a racist organization. They asked them to condone the racism in their party instead of denying it existed.

    Mark Williams, as head of the Tea Party Express, proved that it did exist. His ficticious letter to President Lincoln brought it out & caused a rift in the Tea Party. So Breitbart & Fox created a diversion w/ an edited tape.

    Now even though Ms Sherrod has been vindicated, there are those that are still trying to spin the story into something sinister. That somehow this proves that she, the NAACP & this administration is racist.

    Just as they are trying to show some idiots that call themselves the New Black Panther Party somehow proves the same thing. Never mind that the charges were dropped by the Bush adminstration before President Obama took office. Never mind the fact the 2 idiots were there for the tv cameras & didn't intimidate anyone. Even members of the old Black Panther Party have issued statements disavowing any link to this org. Never mind that the idiots in this org number a few dozen at most & don't, nor can't, express the feelings of the black community.

    These people are doing nothing more than feeding the hatred in this country. Reminds me of Manson trying to start a race war w/ his Helter Skelter. I surely don't want to see a repeat of the race riots of the late 60's. Unfortunately, it seems that others do. The saddest thing is these people will be hiding under their beds while innocent people suffer from the carnage they created. How sad for America.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:58 am |
  25. pfriday

    vickie- so you watched the video.

    PS, it shouldn't matter what race you are.

    I don't understand why Ms. Sherrod was fired, it seems the entire should have been viewed by decision makers.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  26. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    Well MeLoN we all know that your a sign of division for our country!

    July 22, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  27. William

    I wonder if CNN's White House correspondent Ed Henry ( who is on the White House Correspondents Association board,) still supports FOX NEWS s getting Helen Thomas's White House seat now that she has retired. This Shirley Sherrod story just like the Acorn story is just another of many FOX NEWS stories which have been found not to pass the fact test. There is a lesson for those news outlets who think that the FOX format is the way to go to increase viewer-ship. Don't do it!

    July 22, 2010 at 7:44 am |
  28. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    William you sound like one that divides our country.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  29. J Darbender

    CNN has sure covered Sherrod's side of 'false racism' charges – which I believe are just.
    However, has it occurred to CNN to cover the 'false racism' charges at the root of this whole mess ? Those would be the racism charges levelled by the NAACP against the Tea-Party folks. Better yet, just show us an example.
    But, then again, if CNN did reporting like that, they might have viewers.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:39 am |
  30. MeLoN

    I'm getting tired of hearing people constantly attempting to play the blame game without ever coming up with a single solution to the problems affecting America TODAY. It's time to move forward.

    Racism is ripe on both sides of the political fence.

    lol'ing @ Obama signing a bill to cut excessive wasteful spending – while wasting as much as he could possibly spend. OH... the irony of it all.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:37 am |
  31. stan williams

    Thanks CNN for your endeavors to uncover this story which is clearly a right wing tactic that backfired, but more importantly has evolved to include the highest levels of govt. As expressed by the poet Omar Khayyam in the Rubaiyat.

    "The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it"
    - Omar Khayyam

    July 22, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  32. S Hills

    Wow is this a double standard!? It's so obvious what's going on here. I neve seen other 'ethnic' groups apologized to who have gone through HELL in this country all throughout history. Wow.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:29 am |
  33. William

    I think the ugly truth is this woman still harbors the anger today and it came out in her choice of an the example for her speech. Wisdom and change would have erred on the side of being conservative. She was in our face with her hurt. She should not be allowed back in. She needs therapy and a non public servant job. Would anyone that relied on her decision feel confident it wasn't clouded?

    July 22, 2010 at 7:16 am |
  34. Mike

    Who in their right mind would believe anything that comes out of, Who in their right mind would believe anything that comes out of Andrew Breitbart's mouth? Just by looking at the guy's face you can tell that he is a delusional individual who wants to start trouble.....

    July 22, 2010 at 7:15 am |
  35. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    I know Shirley Sherrod does not want our sympathy or pity but she does deserve all of America's attention. She has worked to unify our country. Our country is so divided now and not at all what our founders had dreamed of. They had worked for the people as Shirley had, but now it is more like if you wash my hand I'll wash yours or if you do this for me I'll do that for you. The government now does not work for the people, they work for themselves!

    July 22, 2010 at 7:14 am |
  36. Keith Reyes, PhD.

    The Sherrod's fiasco exposed the prevailing mindset which made it so easy to victimize this lady. This is frightening. Ms. Sherrod is right in considering whether to accept re-employment in this environment.
    Keith Reyes, PhD.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:12 am |
  37. vickie votaw

    to pfriday-perhaps they were laughing because they were familiar with the attitudes that whites have used with african americans all these years to control them. been there, experienced that!!! & i'm white! – i have found right wingers don't look at problems in their totality- when you can't see the whole picture you have a distorted view! it IS definitely a struggle between the "haves" & the " have nots". and the "have nots" are here because the " haves" have ridden the backs of the " have nots" for centuries.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:08 am |
  38. Gail

    Ms. Sherrod, I also live in the south, and as a woman who is poor and going up against a man with money who has tried to kill me in the past (yes I have pictures) I can understand what the system in the south does to those who do not have money. Thank you for fighting back. There are so many of us that are trying, but the media will not listen. Please keep speaking out.

    July 22, 2010 at 7:07 am |
  39. Pauly

    I'm getting tired of hearing people say the point of the story was the audiences' reaction. First of all, the speech didn't start w/ the edited comments. And the reaction was nothing compared to the applause after the story.

    Breitbart, Fox & others are just trying to justify the injustice they created. There is no excuse!!! They knew exactly what they were doing. They were trying to tie the administration to racist comments. Ms Sherrod wasn't even a govt employee when the story took place. She didn't have to help the white farmer. The event took place 24 years ago but they made it seem it happened while she was in her official capacity at the USDA,

    July 22, 2010 at 7:03 am |
  40. vickie votaw

    shirley- please sue the bejessus out of that right wing fanatic!!!

    July 22, 2010 at 6:56 am |
  41. Cheryl M.

    I just watched the interview of Ms. Sherrod by John Roberts and Kiran Chetry. As an African American, I was insulted by John Roberts comments at the end of the interview where he condescendingly told Ms. Sherrod that she is in a "very powerful position right now." She is an adult, professional woman who clearly knows where, who, and what she is. That superior white male attitude that pre supposes that she is unaware of her position or condition and attempts to inform her of her condition is pervasive, insulting, and was on full display this morning.
    Please advise John Roberts to consider his own position and his tone.

    July 22, 2010 at 6:56 am |
  42. pfriday

    if you take time to watch any of the video's what was disturbing is the reaction (laughter) of the attendee's when she starts her story.

    July 22, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  43. YankeeNovember

    If the media stopped reporting knee-jerk blogs as fact of a matter perhaps then validation is possible.

    Find the bloggers who issued this false video/news to the media and prosecute them for wasting our time.

    July 22, 2010 at 6:48 am |
  44. Tom Dempsey

    Ms pls dont beli is a word that that the Sec of Ag is saying.He will say
    anything to get the heat off him..Write your book.

    July 22, 2010 at 6:45 am |
  45. Pauly

    Rick Sanchez stated yesterday that this network didn't comment on this story until all the facts were known. In Ms Sherrod's 1st statement, she said criticized commentary by Roland Martin. Where do you think she heard these comments?

    July 22, 2010 at 6:44 am |
  46. Don Straub-Euclid, Ohio

    It is good to see that Shirley Sherrod has been largely vindicated. Evidently, Sherrod isn't the racist, she was painted to be. I'm happy to hear that.
    Racial insensitivity and bias lead to racially-based violence. Such violence can tear a nation apart.
    A person needs to be judged on the merit(or lack of merit) of their own actions-not by the color of their skin.
    I hope that there will come a day when all societies will find racial harmony and live in peace, one with another.

    July 22, 2010 at 6:29 am |
  47. mike sey

    Congratulations CNN on a generally fine job in your handling of the Sherrod story. Too bad it is marred by the insufferably smug and self congratulatory tone of too many of your personalities, and a tendency to turn your coverage into an extended commercial attack ad on your competitor Fox News.

    Not that Fox doesn't deserve everything it gets, but I have yet to hear if anyone 'reached out ' to Fox and its hosts for their sides. When I hear pots calling kettles black, I can't help wonder if it wasn't professionalism, integrity and good management after all, but timing and good luck that kept CNN from charging off down the same path to pillory a very fine woman and civil servant.

    Otherwise, well done and keep it up.

    July 22, 2010 at 6:27 am |
  48. Jorge

    "... half of Americans are predicting Obama will be a one-term president."

    That's funny; I don't remember receiving or taking a poll. In fact, I don't know anyone who knows anyone who has. More importantly, these are probably the same "polls" who predicted Obama would lose the primary to Clinton, the election to Mc Cain, healthcare reform wouldn't pass, financial reform wouldn't pass..." If these polls were any more accurate they would be inaccurate.

    And, define deserve. Deserve as in Shirley Sherrod didn't "deserve" to be fired? We all know how that turned out.

    At least least the Family Feud had it right, "100 people surveyed."


    Austin, TX

    July 22, 2010 at 6:20 am |
  49. Rochelle

    The president has to rely on his staff and the people he has appointed to assess information correctly. Apparently this wasn't done. I appreciate that the people involved did apologize. We never saw that with the Bush administration. But it's important to remember who the culprits are here. Breitbart and Fox News fabricate and distort facts over and over again. Where is their apology? And the mainstream media is also responsible for putting out news without checking facts. It's undeniable that journalistic standards have declined in the last decade, and that's inexcusable.Truth must not be compromised, or we are all in danger of political manipulation by those motivated by greed and the thirst for power.

    July 22, 2010 at 6:15 am |
  50. Pauly

    Hosie Sherrod was shot by a white farmer. Why is the fact that he was shot in the back omitted? An all white grand jury refused to indict the white farmer. A common injustice in the south in the 60's & before. This woman had every right to be racist but she rose above the hatred. Yet, 25 years later, the right wing media labels her a racist.

    The racism by the right wing media isn't even covered up anymore. It's the old southern strategy. Make whites afraid. The blacks are coming. The Muslims are coming. The Mexicans are coming. Be afraid America. Promoting hate & fear is despicable but it seems to be working once again.

    July 22, 2010 at 6:09 am |