If you know Shirley Sherrod only from the controversy of her forced resignation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2010, you don’t know the half about this civil rights leader and farm activist. Sherrod gave attendees at the 14th annual Southern Foodways Symposium a brief glimpse into her life and life’s work, an ongoing story filled with racism and murder and persistence in the face of brickbat obstacles that would make 99 percent of humanity crawl in a hole and suck their thumbs.
Sherrod needed no PowerPoint presentation, no laser pointer, no charts and graphs. She spoke quietly from experience, and the stories and histories poured from her, piecemeal but powerful. The murder of her father. The failed policy of 40 acres and a mule. The racism directed at black farmers in the South. The Pigford v. Glickman class action suit.
When she was done, the room stood on its feet and applauded.
Sherrod's talk highlighted a dizzying Day 2 of the Southern Foodways Symposium, a day marked by more poetry, talks on farming (urban and otherwise), great food and drink and one man’s attempt to reintroduce a crop that used to grow like kudzu in New Orleans.
Read through the curated Tweets after the jump.