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NAACP Backtracks On USDA Official Accused Of "Racist" Comments

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 A black United States Agriculture Department employee resigned yesterday after Fox News posted video of alleged 'racist' comments made at an NAACP event. After initially cheering the ouster, the NAACP has changed its position on the resignation saying it was tricked by Fox News.

The story plus video after the link.

Shirley Sherrod, the USDA Director of Rural Development in Georgia, resigned from her position after a video showing Sherrod telling a story about a white farmer was posted on the web and shown on Fox News.  

The video shows Sherrod speaking at an NAACP event and telling a story about an incident with the farmer that happened over two decades ago.

Conservative media outlets picked up the video and claimed the remarks were racist.  However,  Sherrod told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that white people, including the mayor, were present saying, "Why would I do something racist if they were the there? "



NAACP President Ben Jealous commented, "According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race,We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.Her actions were shameful," Jealous continued. "While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man."

Here's the video being shown on Fox News:


Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the context of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to fight the foreclosure of his farm, and how she even became friends with him and his wife.

"And I went on to work with many more white farmers," she said. "The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it's about the people who have and the people who don't. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race."



While the NAACP first blasted Sherrod for her comments, the organization has now changed its position upon reviewing further evidence.

Arguing that “the NAACP has a zero tolerance policy against racial discrimination” regardless of the background of the person practicing it, the organization’s president Ben Jealous released a statement asking the USDA and Secretary Tom Vilsack to reconsider their decision to fire Sherrod after video of her admitting to working less diligently to help a white farmer surfaced. Jealous called the entire story a “teachable moment” that should make organizations more wary of Fox News, which he claims “snookered” the NAACP.

The NACCP's statement reads:


“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. [...]

Next time we are confronted by a racial controversy broken by Fox News or their allies in the Tea Party like Mr. Breitbart, we will consider the source and be more deliberate in responding.  The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed.  This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition. 



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