Sherrod's family demands USDA, White House apologies

Photo by Jovarie Downing

Photo by Jovarie Downing

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

Son Kenyatta and daughter Russia defended their mother from charges of racism which led to her resignation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture position as director of its Rural Development program in Georgia on Tuesday.

Her ouster stemmed from a video posted on the Internet from an NAACP banquet in March. In the video Shirley Sherrod recalled a case where a white farmer asked for her help and her initial reluctance to throw the full weight of her office behind his problem because of his race and what she felt was his superior attitude. The three-minute video clip that was posted on a conservative website, however, was just a snippet of the entire speech.

The farmer has been identified as Roger Spooner of Iron City. Both Spooner's wife, Eloise, and Sherrod say she stayed with the Spooners' case for two years after that first meeting and Eliose Spooner says Sherrod was instrumental in helping them save their farm.

Those revelations have made Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reconsider the administration's earlier decision to force Sherrod to resign her position as the USDA's rural development in Georgia.

The family is asking for apologies from USDA and the White House "for the treatment and slander of our mother," Kenyatta Sherrod said today.