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.
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.