Shirley Sherrod 'Not Sure' If She'd Take Job Back at USDA

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Transcript

By now you’ve probably heard the name Shirley Sherrod. She is the U.S. Department of Agriculture employee who was asked to resign Monday after a video was released by news aggregator Andrew Breitbart. The video shows Sherrod saying she was hesitant to help a white farmer as much as she could. This morning Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that he will reconsider the abrupt firing, but Sherrod tells The Takeaway that she's "unsure" if she'd return to the job.

In the video Sherrod says that in 1986 she was approached by a white farmer who was facing the possibility of foreclosure on his farm. He came to her for help. "I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farm land," she says in the video. "And here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So... I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do.”

But in an interview on CNN yesterday, that farmer’s wife, Eloise Spooner, defended Sherrod, calling her a good friend, saying, “They have not treated her right. She’s the one I give credit to helping us saving our farm.”

Shirley Sherrod joins us to tell her story.

Read the full transcript of the interview here.

(Below, the original, unedited version of the video, as released by the NAACP Tuesday evening.)

Guests:

Shirley Sherrod

Produced by:

Samantha Fields and Sitara Nieves

Comments [16]

Eric

I am "surprised" these comments are only from one side of the political spectrum, is there some editing going on, hmmm?

In any case, listening to the Take Away a couple of days ago, Ms. Headley described Shirley Sherrod's RACISM as "hesitancy" in not helping the white man because of the color of his skin. Yes, yes, I know, her remarks were building to the lesson of not being a racist, but why the "hesitancy" to call her previous feelings what they were? She was a racist, call it what it was. If Ms Sherrod does so why can't the liberal media?

For the record, as soon as the story came out, I wondered how one could be so bold with those comments, and thought it was a trap that Breitbart fell for, which he did.

Furthermore, for some "diversity" of thoghht, so we all learn, I am amused by all of the liberal, or mainstream, media, falling over themselves to denounce any rush to judgement. Well....all we have to do is go back a few years....do the Duke Lacrosse Rape Frame. Real talk....was there any rush to judgement there? Hmmm....by the liberal MSM?...Hmmm.....

...I wonder what was different about that case.

No matter, I doubt this post sees the light of day anyway, it challenges the prevailing orthodoxy of this show, and diversity of thought just isn't allowed.

Jul. 24 2010 11:16 AM
Carmen Tipling from Kingston, Jamaica

The story of Shirley Sherrod is amazing. It's about media bias. It's about the news cycle's rush to judgement. It's about the "Danger of the Single Story," ala Chimamanda Adiche. It's about a "Road to Damascus" experience, which is difficult to appreciate, if you have not been there and had your own awakening. Oh, America, let the healing begin!

Jul. 21 2010 08:04 PM
Pete Simon from Denver

1) where do you draw the line between the creators of the highly-edited remarks of Shirley Sharrod, and what Goebbls did during World War Two with the way he edited film from one of the Joe Louis - Max Schmeling fights?

on a related note about the culture which creates such distortions:

2) why in the world of journalism is the term "DIXIECRAT" off-limits to described the most tainted portion of today's Republican Party? They have given the Repbulican Party much of its' voting power for four decades. When LBJ succeeded in passing the "Civil Rights" and Voting Rights Acts", "Dixiecrats" began filing into the GOP tent, ushered in by Nixon's (and Pat Bucannen"s) "Southern Stragegy". Why is this obvious, significant shift the our politics so ignored by a "free" press?

Jul. 21 2010 06:20 PM
Barb from Bostob

Take the issue of race aside... this is a story celebrating one's prejudices and overcoming them to find out a way to help. Come on! How does the NAACP just jump at blame and ask her to resign? This is just someone doing good ending up attacked. Such hogwash... she really needs to be appreciated for her work and not what they have done...
Its like blaming the good samaritan for not thinking of helping when he actually did. Be human beings and stop looking for race excuses.

Jul. 21 2010 10:49 AM
Brian from New York, NY

Her story was an uplifting one of overcoming the divisions of the past -- including the murder of her own father by a Klan member and the justice system's unwillingness to prosecute the murderer -- to understand that we're all one people, despite our differences.

Leave it to the toxic, racist right wing to heavily edit that amazing testimony into another of their racist smears.

There will be no apologies because the FOX "News" network and their guy Breitbart have no shame, nor ethics. Fortunately, those of us not consumed with racist hatred can see, quite clearly, what the Republican right wing is all about. And it's not pretty.

Jul. 21 2010 10:27 AM
LeAnn from Butler, PA

I think Ms. Sherrod should have the opportunity to return to her job along with some very public apologies. She is the poster woman for moving beyond differences/race and doing what is right for other humans.

Partially because of how contrary her reality is to the small sound bite that was originally highlighted, now I have to take a different direction.

This whole story is a little too perfect and some questions need to be asked and answered.

Why did the NAACP speak out so quickly against Ms. Sherrod? This approach is very uncharacteristic of that organization from what I've seen in the past.

Since she was speaking at an NAACP gathering why did the NAACP not know of the full context of her speach immediately?

Is the original source of the shortened version of the speach known?

Who were the first to suggest to Ms. Sherrod that she offer her resignation?

Hopefully you can see where I'm going.
This smells of a set up. No, I don't believe Ms. Sherrod was anything but potentially a pawn in someone's larger agenda.

However if the media are truly going to conduct due diligence in this story they need to dig deep, very deep, to connect the dots that are difficult to accept are just coincidences.

If it turns out this was an orchestrated event shame on us for taking the bait as much as anyone else involved.

As for Ms. Sherrod, regardless of how this story came about, I'm honored to have learned of her. I'm humbled by her life's work. I applaud her for refusing to become just one more to cast a stone, 25 years ago and today.

Jul. 21 2010 10:24 AM
Doug from Detroit, MI

I'm amazed when a story like this comes about how many folks are appalled by how quickly those involved rushed to judgement. Then in the same breath rush to their own judgements.
Why can't we have a rational productive discussion about differences (race, culture, physical characteristics,...)? It's not politics, racism, or other labels that prevent this. It's our addiction to quickly passing judgement, gaining whatever self satisfaction we get from it, and moving on to the next "fix".
Until we realize we are a nation of gossipers we aren't going to have the conversations we need to. How about today each of us take a break from passing along any information about another that we cannot confirm first hand. Wouldn't that be pleasant? Wouldn't that be a start?

Jul. 21 2010 10:05 AM
Mike from Denver

I'm concerned this is becoming a new trend of retaliatory racism where ultra right wing conservatives in the media take snippets out of context that result in people wrongly losing their jobs. Another example is the acorn deal, where the hispanic man lost his job after the tapes allegedly showing him helping the two "journalists" when in reality as soon as they left he called the police to report them for potential illegal activity. These poor people are just doing the best they can and end up loosing their livelihoods when jobs are hard to come by.

Jul. 21 2010 10:03 AM

I'm so surprised that something like this would happen and everyone... everyone have such a knee-jerk reaction.

@Carter_Burger
I'm also surprised at your comments, did you read the piece? Did you listen to what was being said? I can only imagine how she felt being in the South around that time and doing her job. She was honest about her thoughts and feelings, and had the internal fortitude to do the right thing - and you fault her for that? I would love to hear your HONEST thoughts and feelings when in the company of those who don't look like you.

Jul. 21 2010 10:00 AM
Mark Harvey from Boca Raton, FL

RE can we talk about race in America without engaging politics? Of course not; the GOP has made race a central plank of its electoral strategy since Nixon's 1968 "Southern Strategy." Moreover, the problem to be addressed in the United States and West more generally is not race or racism per se but rather white supremacy, a pillar of modernity that was enforced through law until as recently as 1965.

Jul. 21 2010 09:38 AM
Hannah from Miami, FL

Isn't it interesting that Sen. Robert Byrd was hailed as a man who could change with time -- from being a member of the Ku Klux Klan to being the longest sitting Senator in history, and this woman is fired for telling an honest account 25 years ago that actually ends with her completely doing here job. The hypocrisy and racism -- and possibly sexism -- are astounding!

Jul. 21 2010 09:38 AM
Michael Fager from Somerville, MA

What concerns me about your coverage of this story is that you have failed to expose the conservative website that edited this video and then released it as if it were true. You need to go beyond talking to and about Ms. Sherrod, and you need to expose who this web site is, and what they have done. That is a very important element that seems to have been lost in your coverage

Jul. 21 2010 09:33 AM
Diane from Worcester, MA

I applaud Sherrod for her candor about her own development of race consciousness and her self-awareness about her biases. For hundreds years African Americans have been in the situation of needing help from white Americans and have not recieved the needed help or the full force of the help that could have been offered, but few white Americans are honest enough to admit that. For the record, I am white.

Jul. 21 2010 09:25 AM
Sameer from Bloomfield, CT

This is as less about race as it is about media bias. We are living in a society where one media outlet can distort the way one person states his/her views, which causes uninformed organizations such as NAACP to jump to conclusions and demand said person's resignation. I was hoping PRI would also cover media behavior and responsibility as part of this story.

Jul. 21 2010 09:21 AM
Carter_Burger from Louisville, KY

She can back peddle and spin this all she wants, the fact is, she did not want to help a person simply because he was white. The very textbook definition of racism. However, following the examples of the NAACP and the White House, it's evident that racism against whites is now acceptable.

Jul. 21 2010 09:11 AM
Nashieqa from Denver, CO

Your hosts suggest that the 'current' climate is less conducive to a discussion about race. The fact is these incidents rear their head and recede on a regular basis. If we admit there is a problem then we (as a people) have to do something about it. I'm already doing my part to further the discussion with yourblackfriend.com.

Jul. 21 2010 08:47 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.