Redeemed former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod reunited Friday with the Georgia couple whose story - albeit heavily edited to the point of slant - sparked a national firestorm on racial politics.
Roger and Eloise Spooner waited patiently as Sherrod approached them, arms outstretched. "I want the first hug," Roger playfully said as they embraced.
"It is so good to see you," Sherrod told the couple.
The reunion, held in a restaurant in the Colquitt, Georgia, area, was witnessed by a CNN Special Investigations Unit. CNN's Don Lemon, who saw the reunion, said it was "very emotional."
"The interesting thing is watching them look at each other in the eye and talk to each other. There were no tears but only big smiles," he said.
But it had been a tough week for Sherrod and the Spooners.
The Sherrod controversy, in which she was told to resign, was apologized to, then offered a new federal job, began after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted a portion of the speech in which Sherrod spoke of not offering her full help to a white farmer. The original post indicated that the incident Sherrod mentioned occurred when she worked for the Agriculture Department, and news outlets quickly picked up on the story.
However, the incident took place decades before she joined the department, and her speech in its unedited form made the point that people should move beyond race. In addition, the farmer whom Sherrod mentioned, Roger Spooner, told reporters she helped him save his farm.
On Friday, Spooner said things had changed between the couple and Sherrod.
"We can't get a hold of you. Your phone's no good to us," he said in jest.
"You're a strong person," he told Sherrod as he looked her in the eye. “You’re a strong person.”