July 23rd, 2010
07:26 PM ET

Hugs and joy as Sherrod, farming family reunite

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.”

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Filed under: Civil Rights • On CNN.com today • Race
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Smith in Oregon

    Outrageous! Anderson Cooper blames the blogging community and 'bloggers' for the hit job video of Shirley Sherrod's NAACP speech! Anderson Coopers repeated rant include blaming left and right wing bloggers for the many ill's in America! Anderson Cooper should apologize to the CNN blogging community.

    Repeated CNN network statements like that by Anderson Cooper are the same kind of bigoted rhetoric that stated in the 1950's All Blacks and now in 2010 All Hispanics are to blame for 'XYZ'. Apparently for Anderson Cooper, it's 'blame the bloggers'.

    You owe CNN Bloggers an Apology Anderson Cooper!

    While the technical staff at Fox Network has the skills, tools and ability to obtain the original NAACP speech by Shirley Serrod and splice, dice and re-edit that into a smear hit video against NAACP who had called Fox Network's linked Tea Party leaders and members of harboring and shielding racist and racism.

    Andrew Breitbart however doesn't appear to have that skill alone. Sadly, Anderson Cooper is blaming 'bloggers' for this racist video hit piece. Even thou Andrew Breitbart has multiple websites, listed the spliced and edited video of Shirley Sherrod's speech on one of his websites, Anderson Cooper blames 'bloggers'.

    This isn't the first video hit and smear campaign against a perceived enemy of the Fox Network. Previously it was the ACORN organization which the Fox Network showed a faux video smear over and over in a crass attempt to destroy the creditability of the ACORN organization and succeeded in doing so when President Obama pulled their federal funding. But despite historical truth and honesty, Anderson Cooper is blaming 'bloggers'.

    July 23, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Anderson Cooper was not blaming bloggers as a whole for creating the kind of hostility the Ms. Sherrod experienced. He was blaming the ideologues who absolutely refuse to acknowledge facts and in fact distort them to prove whatever point they're trying to make, regardless of who it hurts. Ms. Sherrod, to me, should be considered an American hero for trying to bridge to gap between races and yet there's still people out there who believe she said something wrong and should be villified. To Mr. Breitbart, you may not like the NAACP or Obama, but you owe Ms. Sherrod an apology now. You made her the public face of your racism and she has proven to have far better character than you.

      July 24, 2010 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Bertina

      No just you. Your the reason bigots perpetuate on line.

      July 24, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Enough of this nonsense. It was bureaucratic bungling and poor decision-making that got tangled up in black/white silliness and became what CNN and others chose to inflate as a national event. It's been done to death. Now, CNN is squeezing every last drop out of it by cobbling together a 'story of Shirley Sherrod' piece that will evidently be aired Saturday evening. Stop it! There's been far too much coverage of this minor flap already. It was handled. Sherrod wll become re-employed in the government bureaucracy, she's had her far more than five minutes of fame, and the media have once again proven themselves irresistably drawn to the mire and goo in the 24/7 news cycle that they created.

      July 24, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      first of all, any 5th grader or low-life with a computer can compete with Breitbart in this propaganda arena. and I agree about the blame game; there is no need to regulate bloggers any more than you need to regulate "news" networks.

      to Sherrod, I would say sue both for defamation. i mean, go biblical in proportion...sue them so badly that they bleed millions for the rest of their existences, so that nobody will ever dare try to destroy another human being like this because of race. and use the cash to bring better awareness to discrimination and to help prepare the children of today for a future without this type of crime.

      and frankly, it is not just about race discrimination. lets address this on a more general scale. lets just call it discrimination. because I see this on a near daily basis. and if Sherrod goes ahead and sues, and wins this case, everyone who is discriminated against, regardless of reason, will fall under the jurisprudence of Sherrod v FOX and Breitbart.

      July 25, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. commoncents-michigan

    Here are the unanswered questions; why was Ms Sherrod asked to resigned and did resign before anything was even aired by anyone? Why and who informed her she would be on the Glen Beck Show that evening and was not? Why was it the only person that stood up rightfully was Glen Beck? AS far as Glen Beck goes he just did what he usually does, the right thing! Did Fox News fire her? NO! Until the media asks and answers these questions with the same zeal they attacked Fox News and Glen Beck with there will never be any credibility to this media. The final question is, is Ms Sherrod so squeaky clean she could withstand a closer look? I don’t think so; she is a political activist with a agenda. Simply listen to the complete video and you will come to the same conclusion. You in the media need to start doing your jobs of actually reporting the news factually or get out of the business.

    July 23, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • sandy wood

      why has there been no more reported about lady who made phone call to her reqesting resignation?

      July 23, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Fox News has no credibility. I'm sure there are some extremely talented journalists there but as far as the network goes, their fact-checking seems to be sorely lacking. This certainly isn't the first time Fox News has been in the news for incompetence rather than reporting it.

      July 24, 2010 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Bertina

      These questions have been answered already. Watch more than one channel of news. You might get informed.

      July 24, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ramadon

    This is simply and out and out attack on Obama. I wish they would let me have 30 minutes with Hannity or Beck, They are 20th century racist, I am at least giving O'riiley some props for the smug apology he gave.The Tea party got called out on there racism and Mark responded period. We are still cowards about racism.

    July 23, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neena Lane

      We are not cowerds about racism. We just know that whenever a white person points out when a person of color is wrong or being stupid as ALL human beings can be, they will most always be called a racist. Where can the conversation go after that? Nowhere. Case in point. You cite Beck and Hannity as racists. Why? Because they disagree vehemently with Obama's far left, liberal agenda which has nothing to do with his skin color.

      As far as this being an attack on Obama, I think, other than Glibbs addressing it in a press conference and Obama's apology, he wasn't much involved. 100% of the blame for this rests on the head of the USDA, period.

      July 25, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • D. Hanes

      Ah, but when is Obama going to apologize for his own racism.. a beer for the cop, who he so plainly prejudged.. this is the same thing and yet she is getting new job, money , notoriety, probably a cushy government position.. and she's famous.. can write a book.

      The cop got a beer! Guess it pays to be black!

      July 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aubrey

    If you have never worked as a "Black" government employee or in her case, a non-profit group, in rural America, you have no idea what Shirley meant in her speech. Black and White mainstream America is living in a fog. This whole story went right over your heads. Those who really know what's going here are silently saying, "You have to be there to understand." Wake up! Wake up America!

    July 24, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • D. Hanes

      This is all very well to say that.. but then.. " she has never walked a mile in my shoies either"

      July 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Patricia

    What everyone forgets is that Glen Beck had the audio portion of the tape on his radio program in the am. And he even made a comment about the comments on the tape from Mrs. Sherrod being like the 50s only reversed. Because of this, USDA management and the NAACP had every reason to believe the tape would be on Glen Beck that evening. What is sad is that neither the NAACP nor the USDA bothered to check with Mrs. Sherrod. What Fox news and Andrew Breitbart accomplished was to take the news focus off of two major legislative accomplishments of the Obama administration. I hope and pray this administration figures out how to keep this from happening again.

    July 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rufus

    It's amazing to me that this woman has been sainted by the media. You cannot deny the fact that she said she short changed this farmer because he was white. I alos concede that she said she "reformed" her views as a result. If she truly reformed, why hasn't she made retribution to this white family and given them everything they were due. The other obvious question that should come to an investigative reporters mind is...if she did this to this one family, how many white families did she do in before her reform? Maybe they should sue her.

    July 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Rufus, You are an idiot. She gave everything she can to help the white farmer. Stop listening to only Fox and conservative talk radio, they will not give you all of the facts. Balance it out with CNN and NPR, otherwise you will remain idiotic all the rest of your life

      July 26, 2010 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • D. Hanes

      EXACTLY !

      July 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rufus

    Why isn't the news media reporting that Shirley Sherrod was appointed Georgia Director for Rural Development by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on July 25, 2009. It was only a few days earlier that she had learned that New Communities, a group she founded with her husband had won a thirteen million dollar settlement in the Pigford vs Vilsack case. The cash award acknowledges racial discrimination on the part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As a result New Communities received the $13 million and Shirley Sherrod and her husband each received $150,000 for pain and suffering.
    The news media should also be pointing out that Ms. Sherrod also said at the NAACP meeting:
    "There are jobs at USDA and many times there are no people of color to fill those jobs because we shy away from agriculture. We hear the word agriculture and think, why are we working in the fields?" she said. "You've heard of a lot of layoffs. Have you heard of anybody in the federal government losing their job? That's all I need to say." Isn't she telling people of color to get a job in the government because they will never lose their job? Why does the main stream news media consider this woman a saint?

    July 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Nancy, you are misrepresenting facts, like Breitbart did. What she is saying is you should not look down on govt jobs because even though they pay less, they are recession proof. That is a fact in a lot of government occupations: teaching, firemen, police, etc.

      Smart people have been avoiding government work for so long. Its time someone represents the upside of working for government and not just the low salaries

      July 26, 2010 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Vanessa

    RUFUS you just don't get it. If you did not feel a tear coming to your eyes when you saw the Sherrod story, then you my friend just don't get it. You may never "get it".

    July 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rufus

      Dear Vanessa, I must confess I din't get a tear in my eye; just a feeling of disgust. She clearly resigned before it was mentioned on FOX news...this is a scam ....she is as guilty of rushing to judgement as is the White House.

      July 24, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ms. Eileen G. Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    Redeemed former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod should be use as a teaching instrument. It is sad that the inconvenience of so many would not generate more hope for other situations.

    July 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • michael

      Redeemed? Please?

      http://www.theminorityreportblog.com/2010/07/21/but-it%e2%80%99s-tougher-if-you%e2%80%99re-stupid/#more-2125

      July 26, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Neena Lane

    Ok. After much searching I finally found the original Breitbart op-ed complete with video. No, the complete 43 minute video was not included, but Sherrod's "come to Jesus" moment on her avert racism of the past WAS. THEN the USDA and the Obama Administration, who apparently took Breitbart's piece "out of context" rashly fired this woman. Then Fox news, who also took Breitbart's piece "out of context" ran the story, but by then the damage by the USDA had already been done. However, O'Reilly did apologize. Now we've got CNN and the MSM takiing Breitbart's peice "out of context" to blame him so they can give Obama and the USDA cover for "acting stupidly" instead of seeking out the truth. If I can find the truth they most certainly can.

    Now we've got the liars on CNN and the main stream media calling for a "crackdown" on bloggers? After going to original sources and reading and watching and comparing it to the post-game spin and manipulation of the truth here, I have to ask. Who does CNN and their ilk think they are? Maybe CNN should insert some objectivity back into their view and in their journalism. Maybe they could figure out why nobody watches them.

    July 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. racial equality now

    This woman offended a lot of people because her comments were publicly displayed. Comments she wouldn't have made to a white crowd. She didn't break any laws. All she has to do is say"I'm sorry if I offended anyone" and go on with her life. Not apologizing gives traction to the whacko racist right-wing. Further, it undermines the moral high ground from which anyone can criticize the tea party from. Trent Lott's comment was a big hit in the context of his crowd. A lot of people thought Helen Thomas' comment was perfectly alright. The rule is, apologize to those offended and move on. The lack of consideration of others is an engine of divisive hate. If Ms Sherrod rejoins the administration without neutralizing this issue, this thing will hurt the progressive agenda. So far her selfish indignation precludes her from being a public servant.

    July 25, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nancy

    I am amazed that so many have chosen a piece of Shirly Sherrod's story they can relate to and criticized or aplauded her based on that. They are using her to promote their own beliefs, not hers. The main point, which has been largely ignored, is that Shirley made a decision to overcome her own negative experiences and racism, and began to see everyone as an individual, regardless of their race.. Every one of us is a unique individualwith different experiences and different backgrounds. If we examine ourserlves and and conclude that we can rise above the negative things we have experienced in our lives, we can turn them into something positive and make the world a better place.

    July 25, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • michael

      Nancy, open up your eyes and learn the entire story!

      July 26, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. michael

    While the liberal press wants us to focus on the tape, nobody is talking about this story about Shirley Sherrod!

    http://www.theminorityreportblog.com/2010/07/21/but-it%e2%80%99s-tougher-if-you%e2%80%99re-stupid/#more-2125

    July 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sid

    So what does her husband, Charles Sherrod, say about racial animosity? Here's his video:

    http://www.riehlworldview.com/.../sherrod-we-must-stop-the-white-man-and-his- uncle-toms-.html –

    July 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mike v

    Isn't it amazing? Everyone is so afraid to talk about race, that even the NAACP jumped the gun. Why? Because they thought a quick response was required because of the crap the Tea Party was accused of?
    This country is FULL of different races. Black, White, Puerto Rican, Asian and on and on. Take off the blinders America and DEAL WITH IT!!!

    July 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
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