Sherrod gets apology

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Members of Shirley Sherrod's family gathered in support of the family's embattled matriarch at a rally Wednesday at the Charles Sherrod Civil Rights Park.

Kenyatte, her son and Russia, her daughter, defended their mother from charges of racism which led to her resignation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this week.

The apology family members were seeking came Wednesday afternoon, and Sherrod was offered a "unique" job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Her ouster stems from a video posted on the Internet from a Coffee County NAACP banquet in March. In the video, Shirley Sherrod recalled a case where a white farmer asked for her help 24 years ago and her initial reluctance to throw the full weight of her office behind Roger Spooner of Iron City because he was white.

The three-minute video clip that was posted on the Internet, however, was just a snippet of the entire speech in which she later agreed to help Spooner.

Those revelations have caused Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to reconsider the administration's earlier decision to ask Shirley Sherrod to resign her position as the USDA's rural development director in south Georgia.

"We are asking for an apology from the USDA and the White House for their treatment and slander of our mother," Kenyatta Sherrod said. "While we accept the apology of the NAACP, we are disappointed in their actions and rush to judgment. As fellow civil rights activists and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) members, my mother, my father, Charles Sherrod, and all our family members, have stood in support of the NAACP and fought along side them.

"To see them desert us in our time of need has been difficult -- shame on you."

According to wire reports, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has gotten involved in the fracas and is calling for an apology from the Obama administration. In addition he has asked Vilsack to review the department's decision to ask Shirley Sherrod to leave her job.

"We find it ironic that in the 100 years of USDA's history of discrimination not a single white person has been dismissed for discrimination," Mikheila Sherrod, wife of Kenyatta Sherrod, said. "However, a black woman who is doing her job well is falsely accused of discrimination in an altered video and it was decided that she can no longer do a credible and nondiscriminatory job of dispensing USDA rural development programs and must resign."

The web site that released the video, biggovernment.com, has posted the full video of Shirley Sherrod's NAACP speech, in addition to another excerpt which they say supports their original assertion of racism.

The Sherrod family quickly fired back.

"We are appalled at the accusations of racist comments and the subsequent rush to judgment that followed," Kenyatta Sherrod said. "When we became aware of the accusations we encouraged her and stood by her as she came forward with the truth. My mother has devoted her life to helping others both here in Georgia and across this nation and we are disturbed that the joy she had at serving in a greater position of influence has come to such a tragic turning point.

"It is in fact a sad day when one cannot speak with honesty of their personal transformation without being condemned."

Mikhiela Sherrod says it is still possible to wring some good out of what has thus far been a bad situation.

"We are hoping that this might open up a new dialog on race relations in our country," she said. "Anyone who desires change needs to stand with us."