After publicly apologizing to Shirley Sherrod and inviting her to return to her job, Secretary Tom Vilsak will make his way to Capitol Hill to meet with Congressional Black Caucus members. Sherrod is the Agriculture Department official who was abruptly forced to resign earlier this week based on a misinterpretation of an edited video of remarks that she made at an NAACP event in March. The CBC is furious that nobody at the Agriculture Department or the White House took the time to view in its entirety the video in which she appeared before literally forcing her to pull over on a Georgia highway to text in her resignation.
“We want to talk about and hopefully receive an explanation for what many of us consider to be a snap reaction to what should have been a thoughtful investigation,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri).
Cleaver and others also lay part of the blame for Sherrod’s “resignation” with NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, whose swift reaction to the video helped hasten Sherrod’s dismissal. “That was a bad, bad decision on his part,” Cleaver said.
In a statement issued late Monday, Jealous said, “According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race. We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.” Jealous also said that in her remarks, Sherrod gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man.” (NAACP Statement on the Resignation of Shirley Sherrod)
Of course, he didn’t know that, because like the administration, he, too, had not reviewed the video. Once the truth came out, Jealous said that he had been “snookered” into condemning Sherrod. The video appears on the civil rights organization’s website with the following statement: The video of Shirley Sherrod released by Andrew Brietbart’s Big Government Blog on July 19 didn’t tell the full story. It was selectively edited to cast her in a negative light. Here is the video, shot by the local NAACP unit that hosted Ms. Sherrod. Watch the video and judge for yourself.
Rep. Artur Davis (D-Georgia) said that Jealous reacted too quickly because of the backlash he’s been receiving for comments he made last week about racists in the Tea Party.
The White House also apologized today to Sherrod, admitting that the administration was acting without all the facts. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued the apology on behalf of the entire administration.