America

NAACP Changes Stance To Support Ex-USDA Official

The NAACP at first denounced Shirley Sherrod, the former U.S. Agriculture Department official who admitted in a speech that long before she became a federal official, she once didn't initially help a white farmer facing foreclosure as much as she could have because of his race.

But later on Tuesday, the organization retracted its earlier denunciation. It said that after reviewing a fuller version of a video of a March 2010 speech in which Sherrod told the story from 1986, it felt that it had been manipulated by the conservatives who pushed an edited version of video. The precise word used by the NAACP was "snookered."

An excerpt:

With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA Official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias.

Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.

The fact is Ms. Sherrod did help the white farmers mentioned in her speech.  They personally credit her with helping to save their family farm.

Moreover, this incident and the lesson it prompted occurred more that 20 years before she went to work for USDA.

Finally, she was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption. In the full video, Ms.Sherrod says she realized that the dislocation of farmers is about “haves and have nots.”  "It’s not just about black people, it’s about poor people," says Sherrod in the speech. “We have to get to the point where race exists but it doesn’t matter.”

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.