The story of the ‘shameful’ USDA brouhaha

By Ericka Mellon in Blacksburg, Va., for CNN A New York Times report in April investigated Shirley Sherrod’s comments. The audio posted to the Times’ website was difficult to interpret, but the report suggested…

The story of the 'shameful' USDA brouhaha

By Ericka Mellon in Blacksburg, Va., for CNN

A New York Times report in April investigated Shirley Sherrod’s comments. The audio posted to the Times’ website was difficult to interpret, but the report suggested the fired Agriculture Department official was quoted accurately, “at one point in a speech, speaking to a group of African-American ministers in the heart of the rural South, she was ‘just basically laying out her philosophy that these folks are some kind of primitive people.’” Sherrod “has admitted to exaggerating her past misgivings about helping a white farmer secure his own farm as a basis for her comments that were published a few days after.”

By May 2, Sherrod had apologized for the entire incident.

The Fox News website is filled with pieces where Sherrod is cast as a “racist” who “lies about her past to get white men to help her in order to support her husband’s civil rights agenda in the 1990s.”

On Tuesday night, a video surfaced, widely publicized, which showed remarks Sherrod made years earlier. In response, some conservatives have taken to calling her “lying, unapologetic Shirley Sherrod” and “disgraceful Shirley Sherrod” over what they say is her hypocrisy.

Not long ago, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams wasn’t familiar with Sherrod or her past, but she’s apparently become more familiar with her in recent days. On Friday, Abrams sent a fundraising email out asking her supporters to donate a total of $10,000 to the Sherrod campaign in order to send Sherrod “back to Georgia.” In the email, Abrams said that Sherrod’s husband, whom she represents in his civil rights lawsuits, has been “wrongfully imprisoned and so far is awaiting trial and there is a lot more to learn about this misjustice.”

This is not the first time Abrams has sought to benefit from people with deep ties to the USDA. Earlier this year, Abrams — whose brother is an officer at a call center working for the USDA — reportedly asked for government assistance for her brother, according to the WGCL news station in Atlanta. Abrams would eventually get $4,000 from USDA to help cover the cost of her brother’s medical bills.

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