Jealous promised an internal probe at the NAACP to examine why audience members appeared to agree with and support Sherrod’s expressions of hostility to another person based on the color of their skin.
“The reaction from many in the audience is disturbing. We will be looking into the behavior of NAACP representatives at this local event and take any appropriate action,” Jealous said, though he sought to distance the national NAACP from any responsibility for the incident.
“We thank those who brought this to our national office’s attention, as there are hundreds of local fundraising dinners each year,” he said.
After the video of Sherrod’s remarks were posted on biggovernment.com Monday, the story was picked up by Fox News, which posted it on their website and showed the video footage on the air. A short time later Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he had accepted Sherrod’s resignation.
“There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA, and I strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person,” Vilsack said in a statement. “We have been working hard through the past 18 months to reverse the checkered civil rights history at the department and take the issue of fairness and equality very seriously.”
Here is the full statement released by the NAACP:
NAACP STATEMENT ON THE RESIGNATION OF SHIRLEY SHERROD
(BALTIMORE, MD) NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous issued the following statement today after learning of the resignation of Shirley Sherrod of the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Since our founding in 1909, the NAACP has been a multi-racial, multi-faith organization that– while generally rooted in African American communities– fights to end racial discrimination against all Americans.
We concur with US Agriculture Secretary Vilsack in accepting the resignation of Shirley Sherrod for her remarks at a local NAACP Freedom Fund banquet.
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.
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.
The reaction from many in the audience is disturbing. We will be looking into the behavior of NAACP representatives at this local event and take any appropriate action.
We thank those who brought this to our national office’s attention, as there are hundreds of local fundraising dinners each year.
Sherrod’s behavior is even more intolerable in light of the US Department of Agriculture’s well documented history of denying opportunities to African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American farmers, as well as female farmers of all races. Currently, justice for many of these farmers is being held up by Congress. We would hope all who share our outrage at Sherrod’s statements would join us in pushing for these cases to be remedied.
The NAACP will continue to advance the ideals of America and fight for freedom, justice and fairness for all Americans.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.