Sherrod not sure she would go back to Ag Dept

By MARY CLARE JALONICK and BEN EVANS (AP)

WASHINGTON — The woman at the center of a racially tinged firestorm involving the Obama administration and the NAACP said Wednesday she doesn’t know if she’d return to her job at the Agriculture Department, even if asked.

“I am just not sure how I would be treated there,” Shirley Sherrod said in a nationally broadcast interview. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he would reconsider the department’s decision to oust Sherrod over her comments that she didn’t give a white farmer as much help as she could have 24 years ago.

A conservative website posted video of Sherrod’s remarks, causing a furor which led to her condemnation by the NAACP and her ouster by Vilsack. Until Tuesday, she was the Agriculture Department’s director of rural development in Georgia. Then, she said, she was pressured by superiors to resign.

Sherrod said her remarks, delivered in March at a local NAACP banquet in Georgia, were part of a larger story about learning from her mistakes and racial reconciliation, not racism, and said they were taken out of context by bloggers who posted only part of her speech.

Vilsack’s statement came after the NAACP posted the full video of Sherrod’s comments Tuesday night.

“I am of course willing and will conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner,” Vilsack said.

The Obama administration’s move to reconsider her employment was an absolute reversal from hours earlier, when a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said President Barack Obama had been briefed on Sherrod’s resignation after the fact and stood by the Agriculture Department’s handling of it.

But growing calls for the administration to reconsider the decision put pressure on Vilsack, who stressed that the decision to ask for her resignation was his alone. The NAACP, which initially condemned Sherrod’s remarks and supported her ouster, later said she should keep her job. The civil rights group said it and millions of others were duped by the conservative website that posted partial video of her speech on Monday.

Appearing in a nationally broadcast interview Wednesday morning, Sherrod said she “couldn’t get the people I was working with” to listen to her explanation.

She said the tone of her comments posted on the website were misleading because they lacked context. “That’s not me. If you look at my life’s work, you would know that’s not me.”

“… If they would have looked at the entire tape, I don’t see how they could have come away thinking I was a racist,” she said.

Sherrod said she was “particularly hurt” by the NAACP’s condemnation.

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