National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Benjamin Todd Jealous said late Monday he was “appalled” by the actions of U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod, who resigned earlier in the day after video surfaced of her speaking at an NAACP event about discriminating against a white farmer seeking government help.
Jealous also promised to look into why members of the audience at an NAACP fundraiser in Georgia this past March reacted, as shown in the video, by nodding and in some cases laughing at Sherrod’s remarks. But Jealous distanced the national NAACP from the incident.
Coming just days after the NAACP condemned racist elements inside the Tea Party movement, Sherrod’s remarks place the storied civil rights organization in an uncomfortable position.
“Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race,” Jeaous said. “We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.”
“Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man,” Jealous said (read his full statement below).
In the video, which was first posted Monday on biggovernment.com, a conservative site run by Andrew Breitbart, Sherrod is shown speaking on March 27, 2010, at what is labeled as a “Freedom Fund” dinner in Georgia, though the exact location is not clear. The Daily Caller has asked the NAACP to clarify that detail.
“I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farm land, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land, so I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do,” Sherrod said.
“I did enough,” she said.
Sherrod said the only reason she helped the man at all was because she knew that the federal or state department of agriculture had sent him to her and “he needed to go back and report that I had tried to help him.”
“So I took him to a white lawyer,” she said. “So I figured if I take him to one of them, that his own kind would take care of him.”
Sherrod then said it was “revealed” to her, though she did not explain how, that “it’s about the poor versus those who have.”
“It’s not so much about white — it is about white and black — but it’s not, you know,” she said, failing to finish the thought. “It opened my eyes, because I took him to one of his own.”
The video, a less than three-minute excerpt of Sherrod’s remarks, ends at that point.