Urban League CEO Sounds Off On The Sherrod Debacle

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, one of nation’s oldest civil rights organizations, explains why he believes the NAACP was 'bamboozled' by an altered video of former USDA official Shirley Sherrod.

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MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

Marc Morial is with us, the president of the National Urban League. He's going to stay with us to talk about the 100th anniversary of the Urban League. The group is celebrating its centennial here in D.C. this week. But before we take a short break, we want to ask you to weigh in.

MARC MORIAL: Greetings.

MARTIN: Greetings. Welcome back. Very briefly on the Shirley Sherrod case, what do you think is the lesson that needs to be learned about all this?

MORIAL: Beware of phony videos and beware of the effort that's available to people now to falsify videos, documents, and in an incendiary way, pitch a firecracker in a crowded room. I mean I think that's what sparked this and an effort to sort of respond and attack the NAACP, turned into a bit of mischief and gamesmanship, where an innocent woman was mischaracterized. And an innocent woman's real story of reconciliation and good works got taken out of context. That's number one.

But then, secondly, we - the propensity to act so quickly - to jump in and respond and characterize so quickly when it comes to issues of race.

MARTIN: Why did the NAACP fall victim to that? Ben Jealous issued a statement, the president of that group, very quickly. And if the NAACP stands for anything, one would think it would be about not the rush to judgment, given that it was formed as an anti-lynching organization in the wake of the fact that black folks were targeted with unfair charges and killed as a result. So why did they fall vulnerable to this?

MORIAL: You know, I think, yeah, I think that the NAACP and Ben Jealous certainly can and should speak for himself. But I do think that while he's indicated his regret in doing so, they weren't a bit bamboozled by the take.

MARTIN: We need to take a short break. But when we come back, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League is going to stay with us. I'll give him more time to answer that question, as well as to talk more about the history of the Urban League. It's celebrating its 100th anniversary this week.

I'm Michel Martin and you're listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Please stay with us.

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