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Shirley Sherrod
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Advocate
    (1948- )
    Born in Baker County, Georgia
    Birth name is Shirley Miller
    Civil rights activist
    Employee of the USDA (director of Georgia Rural Development)
    Forced to resign her position by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack after right-wing commentator Andrew Breitbart aired a heavily edited clip of her speaking at March 2010 NAACP banquet (July 19, 2010)
    The 2 minute, 43 second clip (the speech in its entirety lasts 43 minutes) focused on her saying she didn't give a white farmer 'the full force of what I could do'
    NAACP broadcast the entire tape, showing the clip was manipulated to make her seem racist (July 20, 2010)
    President Barack Obama offered an apology and White House staffers extended a new job opportunity to her after admitting a grave mistake was made
    Like it or not, she became household news as a flashpoint for media manipulation.
    After the clip aired, FOX & Friends news outlet headlined the story 'Racism Caught on Tape.'
    High profile conservative talking heads immediately called for her ouster, including Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.
    Vilsack called her three times on her cell phone, pressuring her to resign, and overwhelmed (plus knowing she did nothing wrong) she relented, doing so by pulling off the side of the road and e-mailing her resignation.
    Once all the facts were learned, tea party members and right-wingers took no responsibility for the smear campaign, blaming the White House for being 'quick to judge.'
    Breitbart maintained he did nothing wrong, stating, 'This was not about Shirley Sherrod. It's about me... Racism is used by the left and the Democratic Party to shut up opposition and I am showing you that people who live in glass houses should not be throwing stones.'
    Her father was shot to death when she was 17 years old by a white farmer in a dispute over cows (and later acquitted).
    The incident shaped her life, and she felt she needed to stay in Georgia to help promote change.
    She earned a master's degree in community development at Antioch University.
    In 1985, unable to secure USDA loans, she and her husband lost the 6,000-acre farming cooperative they founded in Lee County, Georgia.
    She helped champion a class action suit against the USDA (Pigford v. Glickman) in 1997 for alleged discrimination against black farmers, and in 1999 won an over $1 billion dollar settlement for more than 16,000 plaintiffs.
    She was hired as Georgia director of rural development by the USDA in August 2009, becoming the first black person to hold the position.
    The white farming couple she was alluding to in her speech credit her for saving their farm.
    The farmer, Roger Spooner, stated, 'I don't know what brought up the racist mess. They just want to stir up some trouble,' and his wife Eloise stated, 'That ain't right. They have not treated her right.'
    Once all the facts came out, Vilsack and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs offered an immediate apology, later followed by President Obama in a seven minute phone conversation (she accepted the apologies).
    On July 21, 2010, O'Reilly stated, 'I owe Ms. Sherrod an apology for not doing my homework, for not putting her remarks into the proper context.'
    FOX News steadfastly refuted any claims they helped fan the flames of controversy during the incident.
    The entire situation has opened debate over media interpretations of newsworthy events, and called into question the old UPI saying, 'Get it first, but first get it right.'

Credit: Scar Tactics


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