Sherrod will receive award

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Shirley Sherrod made a bold commitment to stay in the South and work for change some 46 years ago, after her father, Hosie Miller, was killed by a white man in a dispute over ownership of livestock.

That commitment will earn Sherrod recognition Tuesday when state Sen. Robert Brown, D-Macon, presents the first Hosie Miller Courage Award to the daughter of the tribute's namesake.

"I made a commitment to work for change after the murder of my father, and to have an award like this named in his honor is more than I ever could have imagined," Sherrod said while taking a break from an appearance in Florida's capital city Friday. "To be the first person to receive the award named for my father pleases me to no end."

Sherrod was forced to resign from her position as Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture after being accused of making racist comments during a speech given at an NAACP event in Douglas. Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted an excerpt of that speech on his website, setting off a chain of events that led to Sherrod's ouster from her USDA position.

When the entire video was released, however, it revealed that Sherrod had offered a "moral to the story" about her comments that a white farmer's attitude toward her led her to question how much help she would offer him. She said "poverty, not race," is the ultimate issue in rural development.

Sherrod actually worked with the white farmer to save his farm, and he became one of her most ardent supporters during the national media storm that erupted when Breitbart released a portion of the video.

Sherrod announced this week that she was filing a defamation suit against Breitbart.

"He (Breitbart) knew the truth when he put that lie out there," she said Friday. "The sad thing is that so many others who reported his lie could have found the truth if they'd taken the time to do so."

Brown, who will make the Hosie Miller Courage Award as part of Rural Black Family Day at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Floyd Building adjacent to the Georgia State Capitol, said there is no more deserving recipient of the award than Sherrod.

"I can't think of a more perfect example of courage and grace under fire than Shirley Sherrod," Brown said in a release. "This hard-working, dedicated woman was the target of hate speech and defamation, yet she remained true to her ideals, true to her goals and true to herself."

Sherrod's father was a farmer in the small Baker County community of Hawkinstown when he became embroiled in an argument with a neighboring white farmer over the ownership of cows. Cal Hall confronted Miller about the livestock on March 15, 1965, and when Miller stood up to him, Hall shot Miller in the presence of three witnesses.

Miller later died from the wounds.

Other awards at Tuesday's event will be presented to 100-year-old Macon native Dosh Jackson and 10 elected officials/community activists known as the Brooks County 10.