This has been a challenging time for a dynamic lady named Shirley Sherrod. She gets my vote for "Woman of the Year" as she was steadfast in defending her position in the face of tremendous adversity and did not break. Shirley Sherrod was the director of rural development in Georgia for the Department of Agriculture who was forced to resign from her job when remarks she made at a local NAACP program about black and poor farmers some twenty-four years ago in a video were deliberately and intentionally clipped and released by reporter, Andrew Breitbart on a conservative website. It's extremely disturbing that without a thorough investigation of the facts, top officials and media including White House representatives, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, NAACP President Ben Jealous, Roland Martin (who typically gets it right) and many others who supported the fiasco almost ruined the reputation of an outstanding woman who has spent her life fighting for civil rights.
Some things we should learn from Shirley Sherrod's situation and the actions of leaders who condemned her are.
Stand firm on your beliefs, particularly when your integrity is being challenged.
Be gracious at all times.
Fear has no place in righteousness.
Find a way to turn an adverse situation into a positive one.
Be prepared to defend your position.
Learn how to apologize gracefully.
Always investigate and get facts before you make or write public statements about anyone.
Although the media and most important the leaders who convicted Sherry Sherrod publicly have apologized, the road to recovery is a long one. The origin of this latest embarrassing and sadly unfortunate incident is deeply rooted in the racism that continues to divide the country. Mrs. Sherrod was a victim of devious and unethical reporting that was intended to produce negativity towards the NAACP. Possibly the only positives about this situation is the world was exposed to the plight of black and poor farmers and we got to meet and see a true women of honor, Sherry Sherrod.