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Shirley Sherrod, Ousted USDA Official, Defended by Farmer She Helped, Others

4 years ago
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A Georgia farmer is defending against charges of racism an ousted Agriculture Department employee who helped him file for bankruptcy. The NAACP and a conservative blogger have also come to her defense.

Roger Spooner told CNN he credits Shirley Sherrod, who resigned Monday as the USDA's director of rural development for Georgia, with helping his family save their farm. Spooner, who is white, said he can't understand accusations that Sherrod is racist.

"I don't know what brought up the racist mess," Roger Spooner told CNN. "They just want to stir up some trouble, it sounds to me in my opinion."

Sherrod, who is black, assisted Spooner and his wife in working with a lawyer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which ultimately kept their farm afloat, he said. "If it hadn't been for her, we would've never known who to see or what to do," Spooner said. "She led us right to our success."

Roger SpoonerSherrod made headlines Tuesday morning after a video clip surfaced from a speech she made in March to an NAACP forum recounting her meeting with a struggling white farmer who came to her for help in 1986.

"Here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land," Sherrod said about her feelings 24 years ago. "So, I didn't give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough so that when he (went to state or federal officials) he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him."

Sherrod told CNN on Tuesday that the clip was taken out of context. She said she described the decades-old incident with the white farmer because she has since come to realize her mistake. "Working with him helped me realize the issue is not about race, it's about those who have and those who have not," she said. Sherrod said she went on to develop a friendship with him and his wife and did all she could to help them.

Spooner's wife told CNN she remembered Sherrod as "nice-mannered, thoughtful, friendly, a good person."

Eloise Spooner said that when she heard about Sherrod's resignation, "I said: 'That ain't right. They have not treated her right.' "

Sherrod claimed the White House forced her to resign but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told CNN that he "didn't speak to anyone at the White House. ... I made this decision; it's my decision. Nobody from the White House contacted me about this at all."

Meanwhile, the NAACP issued a statement on the controversy, saying in part: "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."

And, at the prominent conservative blog RedState, Erick Erickson spoke out in defense of Sherrod. "I think Shirley Sherrod has been unfairly characterized as a racist," he wrote.

Watch Roger and Eloise Spooner:

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8 Comments

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Meadhh

Shirely, Good for you, being called a racist and thrown under the bus before facts are revealed really hurts. I would tell them to shove the position where the sun don't shine. Keep your dignity, walk with your head up high and let the accusors slump to the ground.

July 21 2010 at 12:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Mimi

The question is just where did the "out-of-context" video clip first show-up?

My understanding is that the incident itself, Ms. Sherrod faced with having to help poor white farmers, took place back in the early 1980's. Since her father had allegedly been killed by white klansmen, she had vowed to return to Georgia to defend black people and was naturally reluctant to help white people.

The entire video shows her retelling of the whole story, how it was an epiphany to her that poor white people needed her help as well - that it was not a race issue at all.

So the initial video that rapidly became viral had obviously been taken out of context for a reason.

The questions that need answered are:
Who aired it first?
Why did they pick out the parts that made Ms. Sherrod look and sound racist?

Shame on Agricultural Sec. Tom Vilsak for not investigating the situation before asking for her resignation. And shame on the NAACP for criticizing her before finding out the whole story.

But at least the NAACP did look at the entire video, and CNN brought the whole story to the public.

Just who is the real villain here?

July 21 2010 at 11:12 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Debbie Penland !

WHY WAS MS. SHERROD EVEN TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING SHE WAS EVIDENTLY (MORALLY) INVOLVED WITH "24 YEARS AGO" AT A "NAACP" CONVENTION/MEETING? WAS SHE "PATTING HERSELF ON THE BACK"...OR MAKING "RACIAL COMPARISONS" FOR S-O-M-E PURPOSE? THE RESPONSE OF THE COUPLE SEEMED SOMEWHAT "STAGED"...AND, ARE THEY S-T-I-L-L ON THIS FARM NOW OR WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH THE "FARM" SHE "HELPED THEM WITH" THE LOAN 24 YEARS AGO?

July 20 2010 at 11:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wolfsonnydiane

How much longer is fox going to be allowed to use grossly edited tapes to smear a persons and get away with it Why are they allowed to say fair and baslance Iam waiting for the so called news peaple on fox to publicly appologise to Sherrod Iam waiting for the head of fox news to appologise to america for using such yellow jurnalism . Iam wainting for foxes sponsers to speak out Wonder how long america thinks ill have to wait for those appologies Every time i go in aspublic place and fox is on I ask why would you have a station that is dso lax in their reporting that at least three times they have used edited tapes to smear peaple or organizations

July 20 2010 at 10:16 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
barney2022

I hope they get to the bottom of it, and I wish the liberal left would conduct the same type of research when this is done the right on a continual basis.

July 20 2010 at 9:29 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
andrc657

Wasn't this another Breitbart 'drive-by' where that right wing journalist uses video footage out of context to get at the Obama administration. This is similar to the hatchet job he did with Acorn.

July 20 2010 at 7:58 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
consurvative

Isn't it funny how people read too much into situations when race is involved at times. The fact is that we are all Americans first , and race is no where near the problem that politicians or organaztions that make there living off of racism make it out to be for political and monitary gains. United we stand, divided we fall people.

July 20 2010 at 7:35 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
wrenchwizard68

It's sad to see how an item taken out of context can destroy a person's reputation......The Republican version of the Huffington post?

July 20 2010 at 7:34 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply

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