Shirley Sherrod: Obama ‘Is Not Someone Who Has Experienced What I Have Experienced Through Life’

By Kate McCarthy

Jul 22, 2010 7:40am

Shirley Sherrod, the woman at the center of the racism storm that has consumed Washington the past few days, told me she doesn’t know if President Obama supports her, but she welcomes the opportunity to talk to him about it, and to offer a few lessons of her own.

“I can’t say that the president is fully behind me, I would hope that he is…I would love to talk to him,” Sherrod said on "GMA."

“He is not someone who has experienced what I have experienced through life, being a person of color. He might need to hear some of what I could say to him,” she told me. “I don’t know if that would guide him in a way that he deals with others like me, but I at least would like to have the opportunity to talk to him about it.”

No word yet from the White House on whether the President will call Sherrod.

Yesterday both the White House and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack offered a public apology to Sherrod for their rush to judgment after a viral video clip of her speaking at an NAACP event emerged. Last night Vilsack also visited with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss Sherrod’s ouster.

The clip, which was posted on Biggovernment.com, is of Sherrod explaining how she did not want to help a white farmer because of his race. But after the full tape was released by the NAACP, it was discovered that the clip was taken out of context.  

Vilsack spoke to Sherrod yesterday and offered her a job at the USDA.  But as of this morning Sherrod said she still didn’t know if she will accept it.

“I haven’t had a chance yet to look at just what that offer is. As I said earlier, I really, I know that he talked about discrimination in the agency and after all of these years that is still happening…And I would not want to be the one person in the agency that everyone is looking at to clear up discrimination in the Department of Agriculture,” Sherrod said.

Sherrod, the former Georgia director of rural development, said she needs reassurance from both Vilsack and Obama that they are fully committed to ending discrimination as well.

“Many of the same people who discriminated against black farmers continue to work there…There are some other things that would need to happen within the agency that have not happened to this date,” she told me.

Over the past four days Sherrod went from a symbol of racism to being seen by some as a heroine – a journey she said was “tough.”

“My life has been about fairness, and to have people think that I was a racist, someone who has worked against racism all my life, really, really, hurt to feel that people thought of me in a way that I know I wasn’t, and a way that so many people who know me knew that that wasn’t me,” she said.

George Stephanopoulos

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