July 21st, 2010
12:05 PM ET

Race and resignation, 24 hours of Shirley Sherrod

Tuesday was all about ex-USDA official Shirley Sherrod, who said she was pressured to quit her job after she was accused of making racist comments. Those remarks were part of a video clip that was posted over the weekend on a conservative blogger’s website and subsequently aired on Fox.

CNN picked up the story Tuesday morning, telling Sherrod’s side of the story, and by Tuesday night there had been a complete 180 in the matter. Those who initially criticized her, including the NAACP, have now said they were duped by the clip. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday that he’s reviewing Sherrod’s case.

- Last week, the NAACP accused the Tea Party of protecting racist elements in its movement.

- Over the weekend, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart published part of a video of Sherrod giving a speech at a March 27, 2010, NAACP dinner. In the 2 1/2-minute video, she appears to be talking about how she treated a white farmer in a 1986 case. At the time, she was not employed by the USDA. Her remarks seem racist.

- Fox News picks up the video, airs it and writes about it on its site.

- Monday, Sherrod resigns. She says she was pressured by at least four phone calls from her superiors telling her the "White House" wants her to leave her job as the head of the Department of Agriculture's rural development office in Georgia.

- Tuesday morning, CNN breaks the story about Sherrod's resignation.

- Sherrod defends herself on CNN, saying her comments have been taken out of context. She urges everyone to watch the full video of her speech in which she goes on to tell the audience that she learned from working with the farmer that all people must overcome their prejudices.

- The NAACP and pundits such as CNN's Roland Martin are critical of Sherrod.

- The white farmer and his wife tell CNN that they stand behind Sherrod and call her a friend. They say she actually helped them save their farm from foreclosure. The farmer calls it "hogwash" that anyone would accuse Sherrod of being racist.

- By midafternoon Tuesday, CNN reports that the White House is denying any involvement in Sherrod's resignation.

- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he stands behind the department's actions and the White House played no role in the matter. He cites the agency's "zero tolerance" policy on discrimination in explaining her ouster.

- Tuesday evening, the conservative blogger who first posted the video, Andrew Breitbart, talks to CNN's John King. Breitbart says his actions were "never about Shirley Sherrod" but about the Tea Party and the NAACP. "This was about the NAACP attacking the Tea Party, and this is showing racism at an NAACP event," Breitbart said. "I did not ask for Shirley Sherrod to be fired."

- By Tuesday night, the white farmer appears on "Anderson Cooper 360" to talk about his experience with Sherrod, calling what has happened to her "ridiculous."

- The NAACP says "it was snookered" by Breitbart and now wants the USDA to rehire Sherrod.

- Wednesday morning Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he'll investigate whether Sherrod was treated fairly.

Filed under: Civil Rights • Race • U.S.
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Option John

    So Sherrod worked for this non for profit with a mission statement to help poor black farmers in Georgia. Since she helped this poor white farmer she did something her boss told her not to do. So she should have been fired by that not for profit boss. At that juncture sherrod should have sued her boss and not for profit on the grounds of racism. None of that happened. So what is the straight story? Any way you look at it Sherrod was in trouble either from the blacks or whites? Why. Maybe a racist not for profit that she worked for. She did not handle it appropriately. Since she was not fired by that not for profit and she did not sue them for racism.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BJBruton

    This very sad affair reflects on what terrible judgment they use at the White House. They fired this lady without knowing any thing about her! I expect little from Bloggers, on the right, or the left. But if this reflects the way the White House makes decisions, heaven help us all!

    July 21, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. PJ Lyndon

    Sherod is a Backpeddling Malicious Racist B...h, Typical Black Woman in authority with a Racist Agenda. Watch the Movie Crash

    July 21, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Urban Matters 2010

      PJ we can see how much homework you have done on the subject, you cannot even spell her name right. You are the true BIGOT

      July 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • kenneth

      What is your Education background!! you sound so Ignorant and racist!!! You sound that way because it is obvious you haven't watched the entire video of this brilliant lady!! Get a life!!! Pray to God and stop hating yourself and America!! May God intervene in your life!!!

      July 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TIM

    i have seen and heard the comments she made and the body language she had while saying them. she ment every word and was arrogant about it. if the shoe were on the other foot the white person would have been fired immediately and slandered by the naacp. she got what she deserved.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rg

    Peddle that bike backwards. funny how the the card gets played when the players change seats

    July 21, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan M

    It light of all the evidence for Sherod, people still find the need to bash her and call her a racist.

    This is why we can't have nice things.

    July 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BRUCE

    Anybody who knew Vilsack when he was the Governor of Iowa knows he doesn't tie his own shoes without marching orders. The decision to fire her came from above not from him.

    Also,this woman allegedly has sued and won big bucks from the government and not a peep from the media ( except for Fox) has been uttered. More information from the press should be written on that subject. Either deny or substantiate that claim. Afraid of something main stream media???

    The tape is more than enough to have her fired. If that had been a white person in power that snippet would be all that was needed NO QUESTIONS ASKED TO HAVE THEM FIRED. The fact is that back tracking from doing so is nothing more than pandering to the left wing base who is up in arms that justice was done fairly. Blaming the person who released the tape is as low as I've seen Democrats go for a long time. Like maybe 5 minutes or so. Whose decision was it to fire her.. his? Rig

    As with all episodes like this where a black person is accused of racism the main stream media charges to to defense. In a time and age where black people have more rights than whites tell me how allowing her to get her job back is going to help the black- white relationship, Especially after the NAACP recent actions against the tea party member for his comments. Of course the big argument will be that is different. Really?? Well no it's not but trying to convince the left wing radicals who want to keep blacks voting for the Democratic Party ain't gonna happen soon.

    July 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Floyd

    Its odd why people still call her racist even after the release of the video. Again, to summarize she was talking to the NAACP about how we have to move beyond race. She gave a personal example of how she overcome her own prejudice to help a white farmer. As the full vid shows she was hesitant to help so she pawned the white farmer off to several white lawyers. She soon realized that the white lawyers didn't care/weren't trying to help one of their own. At that point it become clear to her 24 years ago that it wasn't about black/white but about class. She dedicated 2yrs to help that white farmer to keep his farm. They have been friends ever since as stated on their CNN interview. Oh by the way her father was killed by a KKK farmer. So you can see why she was initially conflicted. Also, to say the NAACP is a racist organization is beyond ridiculous and is just stupid.

    July 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ronald

    President Obama's election has produced an era of when white people and MSM point out all the racist in this country.

    July 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gary George

    Shirley one thing you should do now:

    Sue Shirley Sue.
    Sue Andrew Breitbart, Sue Fox News, Sue CNN, and Sue USDA. Perhaps then news agencies will get back to reporting the news instead of trying to create the news. This was worse than "Reality TV". News is not Entertainment. Ted Turner and his 24-hour news started this circus.

    July 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Greg

    Wow! CNN sure has washed their hands clean of this melee. If you were to read this run down without having tuned into any CNN coverage this past week, you'd think that they had nothing to do with this over-reaction. The media has done a horrible job of covering events like this. Until the media (i.e. CNN) straightens up there act, we have a long way to go before we ever see meaningful racial reconciliation.

    July 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ronald

    @Gary You are right. I would add sue NAACP and CNN. Its funny how now the story is being made into a problem for the Obama admin as if they were the ones that ran the story.

    July 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bertina

    As long as CNN refuses to repudiate Breitbart and his tactics, any speaking moment is meaningless. CNN keeps talking about NAACP and USDA but they refuse to do anything but support Breitbart by continuing letting him spout his hatred.

    July 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      Well one person(Bertina) says CNN is helping Breitbart bye airing what he spouts out.personally I dont think things are getting looked at closely enough..When I saw the film(even in its entirety)I agree,the NAACP crowd did react in a positive manner to Sherrods prejudices.I also would like to see the evidence Breitbart has to prove members of government organized the propaganda at a Tea Party rally siteing prejudism on thier part,alsoi feel sorry for Miss Sherrod a bit,,because I think she probably has worked on her prejudism,BUT in this case you can see the NAACP crowd and Miss Sherrods demeener is in fact racial .I BELEIVE the NAACP is racial and ,I BELEIVE what one race is held to,another race must also,I think If evidence shows that the NAACP was involved in falsly producing evidence that the tea party is racist,and the NAACP is actually shown to be racist.The NAACP should be disband.So lets get down to brass tacks here people....we will never clear the air till we eliminate ALL factions of racism.The race card bye the way is played in politics,,your childrens lives rely on how government is run NOW. Jerry

      July 21, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. me

    A big thank you to CNN for working hard to see that justice was done on the Sherrod case. This is journalism for the people and not hidden agenda journalism as practised by other people such as fOX!

    July 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. me

    That Andrew Breitbart guy needs to be sued for manipulating an evidence in order to prove his case. I say that is crimininal. Look at all the problems his dishonesty caused. He deserved to be sued.

    July 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
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