Shirley Sherrod is still doing good

And speaking of farmers:

Remember Shirley Sherrod, the black former US Department of Agriculture employee who was defamed by the late Andrew Breitbart?

Sherrod was ousted from her job as a Georgia rural development official [in 2010] after Breitbart posted an edited video of her making supposedly making racist remarks…

The video on Andrew Breitbart’s website turned out to be edited, and when Sherrod’s full speech to an NAACP group earlier that year came to light, it became clear that her remarks about an initial reluctance to help a white farmer were not racist but an attempt at telling a story of racial reconciliation. Once that was obvious, Sherrod received public apologies from the administration – even from President Barack Obama himself – and an offer to come back to the Department of Agriculture, which she declined.

As The Washington Monthly explains in an update on Sherrod:

[W]hile Sherrod was working for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, a nonprofit helping black farmers hang on to their land, Roger Spooner, a white farmer in danger of foreclosure, approached her for help. She took Spooner to a white lawyer, assuming that one of his “own kind would take care of him.” But when she discovered that the lawyer would do nothing for him, she did what she could instead. Eventually, she helped Spooner to keep his farm. This was a lesson from God, Sherrod said during her NAACP speech, to teach her that it’s not all about black and white, but about poverty also. “Working with him made me see that it’s really about those who have versus those who don’t,” she said.

If that sounds too class warfare-ish to you, here is how the late former North Carolina Klan leader turned union organizer C.P. Ellis put it:

Mr. Ellis said his experiences in the labor movement helped pave his way to bridging the racial divide.

“I would hear black workers talking about the same problems as white workers, and I could see the common interests we shared. It helped me overcome a lot of prejudice in my life,” he said.

And here is how Bob Dylan put it in “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” about the murder of Medgar Evers, which he performed at the 1963 March on Washington:

A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than blacks, don’t complain
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin” they explain
And the Negro’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

Now Shirley Sherrod and her husband are running two nonprofit organizations in Georgia designed to promote racial conciliation and to help struggling farmers, both black and white.

The irony of Shirley Sherrod’s burst of fame nearly three years ago is that it had almost nothing to do with her at all. A race baiter thrust her briefly onto the national stage, where she stood accused of doing the exact opposite of what she’d spent her life doing. She has since returned to the grassroots advocacy work to which she has dedicated her life, and it’s here, it seems, she’d like to stay.

Shirley Sherrod represents America at its best. Andrew Breitbart and his acolytes represent something else entirely.

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