NAACP President Ben Jealous and former Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod will deliver a keynote address at the annual meeting of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund in Epes, Ala. on Saturday, Aug. 21.
Sherrod gained national attention after she was wrongfully terminated when a video of her speaking at an NAACP luncheon in March was released on a conservative blog. In the video, Sherrod made remarks about being initially reluctant to help a White farmer, who she thought may have been racist.
The news media, White House, the Agriculture Department and the NAACP all turned on Sherrod, and within a day of the publicizing of the blog posting she was forced to resign from the department as director of rural development in Georgia.
However, her comments were found to have been taken out of context when the full version of her speech was released. In the speech, Sherrod told the story to show how that situation helped her to transcend racial barriers.
Subsequently, President Obama, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak and Jealous apologized to Sherrod, with Jealous asking for her immediate reinstatement to the Agriculture Department.
“What intended for evil, we will use for good,” Jealous said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Mrs. Sherrod in our common quest for justice.”
The address will follow the reading of a letter Sherrod released to NAACP members and supporters about continuing to be vigilant against racism.
“You and I have to make sure that people all across the country who wage a daily struggle against poverty and racism have support networks as well. And that’s why your personal involvement in sustaining the NAACP is so critical,” Sherrod wrote. “The NAACP confronts the virulent racism that my family and so many other families have had to endure. But, it is also leading the way in breaking down the structural barriers that block so many people’s paths out of poverty.”