Shirley Sherrod: in her own words
Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia director of Rural Development for the agriculture department, deserved better. A conservative blogger took a snippet from a 43-minute speech she gave to the NAACP’s Freedom Forum banquet in March to paint her as a federal official using her position to actively discriminate against a white person. Richard Cohen gives a nice recap of the last 48 hours if you need it. But I want you to take the time to watch the full speech.
The story Sherrod tells is quintessentially American. She talks about how she vowed to help black people “and only black people” after her father was murdered by white men. And she talks about how her eyes were opened to and her heart rescued from the hate encircling her.
But where am I going with this? I couldn’t say 45 years ago, I couldn’t stand here and say what I’m saying, what I will say tonight. Like I told you, God helped me to see that it’s not just about black people. It’s about poor people. And I’ve come a long way. I knew that I couldn’t live with hate, you know. As my mother has said to so many, "If we had tried to live with hate in our hearts we’d probably be dead now." But I come to realize that we have to work together. And, you know, it’s sad that we don’t have a room full of whites and blacks here tonight, 'cause we have to overcome the divisions that we have. We have to get to the point where, as Toni Morrison said, race exists, but it doesn’t matter.
We have to work just as hard. I know that division is still here but our communities are not going to thrive, you know, our children won’t have the communities that they need to stay in, live in and have a good life if we can’t figure this out, you all. White people, black people, Hispanic people, we all have to do our part to make our communities a safe place, a healthy place, a good environment.
....The change has to start with us.
Yes, the change has to start with us.
| July 21, 2010; 10:01 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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