The Real Lesson of the Shirley Sherrod Controversy

This post was written by PolicyLink founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell regarding the ongoing controversy of Shirley Sherrod’s resignation from the USDA. Ms. Blackwell is also a co-author of the recently released Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future.

I know Shirley Sherrod and I can tell you she is a strong, compassionate American dedicated to justice and progress.

Angela Glover Blackwell

Angela Glover Blackwell speaking in Germany in 2009

Though the full story of her interaction with a white farmer a quarter-century ago has yet to be revealed, it appears she demonstrated a quality too often missing in our leaders: evolution. Shirley used the incident with the white farmer as an opportunity to learn more about the scope of equity – both over the long-term and in the moment. Then, she shared that lesson with the NAACP audience.

Shouldn’t we as a nation value the evolution of leaders? As we did with Robert Byrd and his KKK past, shouldn’t we celebrate the growth shown by Shirley, who has spent decades working on behalf of poor farmers — white, black, Latino, and Native — who had been treated unfairly.

As the November elections approach and we dive even deeper into the issues of race in America, we have no road map because there is no road. Even as the discussions get more difficult, we must also strive to reach the uncommon common ground on the delicate and vital issue of race.

7 Responses to “The Real Lesson of the Shirley Sherrod Controversy”

  1. avatar

    Thank you for saying this. I have the privilege of knowing Shirley as well. She is a smart, funny, warm and courageous woman who's worked in the trenches of the civil rights movement for many decades. Even her supposed victim says the story has been blown out of context: http://www.ajc.com/news/farmers-wife-says-fired-5….

  2. avatar

    Here's the CNN interview of Roger Spooner, the actual farmer Shirley Sherrod helped keep out of bankruptcy

    http://cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2010/07/20/spoone

    And the full video of Shirley Sherrod's speech

    http://www.naacp.org/news/entry/video_sherrod/

    "God is good. I can tell you that. When I made that commitment, I was making that commitment to black people — and to black people only. But you know God will show you things and he'll put things in your path so that you realize that the struggle is really about poor people…"

    "Like I told, God helped me to see that its not just about black people, it's about poor people. And I've come a long way. I knew that I couldn't live with hate, you know. As my mother has said to so many, if we had tried to live with hate in our hearts, we'd probably be dead now."

  3. avatar

    Please vote on two aspects of this issue.
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