Ex-USDA official Sherrod makes peace with NAACP

The USDA official's firing came after a conservative blogger posted her truncated comments to the NAACP that, 24 years ago, she didn't help a white farmer as much as she could have.
By Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 17, 2010; 5:30 PM

Former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod and the NAACP have made up.

The civil rights organization sent a letter to it members from Sherrod on Tuesday. In the letter Sherrod express her support for NAACP and says she does not want to weaken support for the organization.

The reconciliation comes weeks after NAACP President Benjamin Jealous harshly criticized Sherrod for misconstrued comments she made about race. Jealous -- and the rest of the country -- later learned that Sherrod's remarks had deliberately been edited to appear that she had denied assistance to a white farmer because of his race.

"Not long ago, I sat here in my living room in Albany, Georgia, for an afternoon of deep conversation with NAACP President Benjamin Jealous," Sherrod wrote. "As he has done in public, Ben movingly apologized for the fact that the NAACP was initially hoodwinked by [Andrew] Breitbart and Fox into supporting my removal. . . . That's behind us, and the last thing I want to see happen is for my situation to weaken support for the NAACP."

The video that caused the controversy was publicized by conservative blogger Breitbart, whom Sherrod has said she plans to sue. NAACP officials have also been critical of Breitbart, who they said "snookered" them with a deceptive video edit of Sherrod's remarks. In reaction to the video Breitbart posted, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack fired Sherrod. He later offered her another position, and both Vilsack and President Obama called Sherrod to apologize.

The letter settles the friction between the NAACP and Sherrod, who along with her husband, Charles, were active participants in the civil rights movement. Charles Sherrod was a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

The NAACP released the letter publicly in a tweet that called Sherrod's words "moving."

"People ask me, 'Shirley, how are you getting through all of this?' I tell them that, if they knew what I have lived through, they'd understand that these current challenges aren't about to throw me off course," Sherrod wrote.

In interviews soon after she was fired, Sherrod had questioned the relevance of the NAACP's national office, though she noted that local chapters do good work for people who needed help protecting their civil rights. The letter makes clear that she supports the organization fully, and Sherrod and Jealous will appear together at a rural development conference in Alabama on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

Sherrod has not said whether she will return to the federal government.

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