Shirley Sherrod: I hope the administration learned from my case
In 2010, Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign from her position at the US Department of Agriculture after a conservative commentator posted a heavily edited video of a speech, which suggested that Sherrod discriminated against a white farmer. The video set off criticism, mainly by conservative networks, but the full recording of the speech proved Sherrod was telling a story with the opposite meaning.
WMNFâs Lenka Davis interviewed Sherrod after she spoke at a leadership luncheon hosted by The Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival yesterday.
We will air the second half of the interview Friday, where Sherrod will speak about standing up to the politics of fear, her new assignments after she resigned and the current problems in the agricultural community.
When you were asked to resign you told the administration to listen to the entire speech of the video but they wouldn't listen to it. In a CNN interview later on you told the moderator that they didn't listen to your side of the story because they were too scared of Fox News and the Tea Party. Your story is very similar in this case to Ben Jones story, to the story of defunded ACORN. What kind of message does it send when the government listens more to the conservative media and trying to please them than to their own officials?
"That's certainly not the right message for any administration and not the right pattern that any administration needs to set. I'm sure, I hope, that they learned quite a bit from my situation. I'm just so happy that the tape was there where at ACORN they didn't have a tape to try to show what was done. My tape was there. In addition to that, I have spent all of my life working for fairness to every one. That's why the white farmer could step forward to say what I did, I didn't ask him, I didn't go looking for him. They saw what was happening and stepped forward. So, I say, especially to young people, when you do the right thing. See they didn't know that when that blogger chose me he didn't know me and my work. He set out to destroy me but he didn't know what I had done. And obviously the administration didn't know either. They learned a lot. They learned a lesson with my situation that I hope they'll remember and use in the future."
So after winning your case and proving that the video was misconstructed you were offered another position at the US Department of Agriculture and you declined it. Does that have anything to do with the forgiveness of the government who didn't stand by you?
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"No, I declined that position because of...for many reasons but one, if you look back at statements that were made by the Secretary of Ag. At one point he said there would always be the perception that I would not fairly implement the programs of the agency. Now, you just learned the truth so why would you make that kind of statement? And then I had been out there for years and years working, seeing tricks being played and I knew that they would and why...see the other question was why were they asking me to come and work in Washington and not just send me right back to the state office where I was. In fact I asked them that when I went I went up to tell him I would not be accepting, I would not accept the position they were offering. I said, why is it? I said, I did not do anything wrong. Why didn't you offer me my old position back at rural development. He said, 'well, you can have it' but see I know and you know that's not an offer of a position. They were not genuine. They just wanted to get me there where they could keep tabs on me and my position is that after two or three months they would have said, 'Well, this is not working out and it would have been all over."