Freedom Rider: Shirley Sherrod’s Righteous Anger

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Like ACORN, Sherrod was victimized by a Democratic administration which revels in its willingness to assist the right in throwing its own people under the proverbial bus.” Yet, even when the media narrative shifts to sympathy for Sherrod, it trivializes her heroism, just as it diminished Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to a “dreaming preacher whose fondest wish was to see black and white children join hands and sing ‘Kumbayah.’”


Freedom Rider: Shirley Sherrod’s Righteous Anger

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The trivialization of Shirley Sherrod is a trivialization not only of her history, but the history of all black people in this country and of their collective experience.”

Shirley Sherrod, an official at the United States Department of Agriculture, was the latest intended victim of Andrew Breitbart, the right wing agent provocateur responsible for the assassination and ultimate demise of ACORN. Like ACORN, Sherrod was victimized by a Democratic administration which revels in its willingness to assist the right in throwing its own people under the proverbial bus. It is tragic but obvious that if John McCain and Sarah Palin were governing the country, Shirley Sherrod, ACORN and the rest of the Democratic party base could hardly be worse off than they are under the Obama administration.

Shirley Sherrod escaped outright character assassination only because a white Georgia farmer and his wife came to her defense and told the story of how she saved their family farm in 1986 when she worked for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. In a selectively edited video of a Sherrod speech at a NAACP event, she stated that she was initially unenthusiastic about assisting Roger Spooner. She correctly pointed out that as a white man, he might have a greater likelihood of receiving needed aid without her help. Her initial reaction to him was caused in part by her knowledge that black farmers were losing money and sometimes their very farms because of discriminatory practices carried out at by the USDA. She was also angry because Spooner, even in his time of need, approached her with an attitude indicative of white skin privilege and feelings of superiority.

Unfortunately, very few people have pointed out that there was nothing wrong with Sherrod’s appraisal of her situation. As a black person born and raised in rural Georgia, she had first hand experience with the oppression wrought against her people on a daily basis and of the privileges granted to whites. In 1965, her father Hosie Miller was murdered by a white farmer after a dispute over who owned cows located on Miller’s property. The killer was never brought to justice.

If John McCain and Sarah Palin were governing the country, Shirley Sherrod, ACORN and the rest of the Democratic party base could hardly be worse off than they are under the Obama administration.”

Shirley Sherrod is the wife of the Rev. Charles Sherrod, the first field secretary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Charles Sherrod is a name that ought to be familiar to students of history. In a meeting with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Sherrod stood firm in the face of efforts to stop the Freedom Rides that had galvanized thousands to take direct action against segregation. The Kennedy administration was at best lukewarm in its support of civil rights legislation and Sherrod gave Robert Kennedy a needed reminder about his responsibilities. "You are a public official, sir! It is not your job, before God or under the law, to tell us how to honor our constitutional rights. It's your job to protect us when we do."

After years of struggle on behalf of the civil rights movement and for themselves, the Sherrods turned out to be less fortunate than the Spooner family. A farming cooperative founded by the Sherrods, The New Communities Land Trust, went under after the denial of USDA loans. In addition, the Sherrod’s own farm was lost for the very same reason. They were among the plaintiffs in the Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit which resulted in a $1 billion settlement to black farmers who had suffered financial losses because of the USDA’s long practice of denying financial assistance to black farmers.

Most of Sherrod’s public defenders reach their worthy conclusion for the absolutely wrong reasons. Her story has been perversely twisted, as if the right wing provocateurs had any merits to their arguments. It is rare to hear anyone say that Shirley Sherrod had every right to be angry when she met Roger Spooner. The trivialization of Shirley Sherrod is a trivialization not only of her history, but the history of all black people in this country and of their collective experience.

Shirley Sherrod is the latest in a pantheon of black heroes whose true heroism has been either minimized or completely denied.”

Black anger is justified and borne out of centuries of atrocities ranging from enslavement, lynch law, Jim Crow segregation, mass incarceration and now increased attacks by a political world bought off by ever increasing corporate power. Shirley Sherrod is the latest in a pantheon of black heroes whose true heroism has been either minimized or completely denied. The activist Rosa Parks has been erased in favor of the “seamstress with tired feet” story. Martin Luther King is rarely depicted as the man who publicly challenged a sitting president, but instead as a dreaming preacher whose fondest wish was to see black and white children join hands and sing “Kumbayah.”

Now Shirley Sherrod emerges from her years of valiant struggle as the woman who chose some sort of vague “racial reconciliation.” It is a comfortable and cozy narrative, but it misses any real discussion of reconciliation, which never comes about unless injustices are acknowledged and redressed. The fact that her advice and advocacy saved the Spooner’s farm is not terribly note worthy. She discovered that white people are sometimes among the “have nots” and she chose to do her duty and fulfill her work responsibilities.

Also ignored in the corporate media’s endlessly useless reporting is that the suffering of black farmers continues. An additional $1.15 billion was added to the original Pigford v. Glickman settlement, but the Obama administration and Congress have yet to act, and plaintiffs are dying without seeing a penny. Shirley Sherrod still has every reason to be mad.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)


It sickens me...

that NOWHERE, did we hear about a White man murdering a Black man IN 1965!!!! If this were a German murdering a Jew it would have been made into a tv series or movie by now. (I ain't made at the Jews by the way, they look out for themselves, unlike Black folks, I just wish some of them would shut the fuck up about racism being no more).

Fucking Barack Obama would throw a woman under the bus who's father was MURDERED by ( probably a closet KKK) white man. In 1965, 20 years after WWII.

I'm so goddamn tired of the holocaust, the holocaust, though it was a major atrocity, and nothing about lynchings and murders for fun and spectacle in America. Events which took place after the war crimes at Nuremberg and elsewhere. We don't even hear about Pol Pot's genocide anymore???

Let's see if "Hollywood" takes a look at the "Sherrod Story," lets see if the movie moguls find redemption and forgiveness in her story worthy of the silver screen, or will we be left with "Soul Plane #16??"

Poor Lil Ol Barack, scared shitless by generals and Faux Noise. This coward won't push through the legislation to pay the black farmers, won't push through federal crack cocaine sentencing reform, and yet, even after the shit revealed by wikileaks, funds a losing war to the tune of billions. Meanwhile, Black folks sit stupidly by, hoping and waiting for the "change agent" to turn from a DLC Blue Dog/Neo-Liberal piece of shit to a "Black President."

No, the media doesn't want to remind you that niggas were killed at will and discretion not so long ago. (See, my grandparents never owned slaves.. feel me? Though they perhaps offed a few sharecroppers)

Sherrod will be "used" by the democratic party.

I was disappointed to read about Ms Sherrod's endorsement of Ga. Congresman Sanford Bishop; he's the equivalent of Harold Ford Jr.

DLC insiders are experts at "processing" people like Ms Sherrod for their own ends. So I expect there will be many more endorsements of equally repulsive candidates. And if she doesn't follow the script, she will be cast aside, just like the anti war "leaders" did with Cindy Sheehan.


I agree with your insightful observation. In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, she's already predisposed inasmuch as she finds no fault with Obama and wants him to "succeed," whatever the fuck that's suppose to be. Interestingly, she's Exhibit A of the mindset of the typical middle to upper middle class Negro supporter of Obama and believer in mainstream politics. A radical or unorthodox thinker she is not.

Though I admire her courage and uplifting story, at the end of the day, she's a "Obamabot" which is by "definition" one who is capable of masking reality with illusion and group think.

Mr. Pussified wasn't going to bring her to the WH for crumpets, however. That would get the Right Wing to riled up. LOL I guess he made amends on the "View." What a crock. Once a bitch, always a bitch.


And now we come to the one part of the text where her critics might fairly call her out for playing a race card. Here's the full 54-word quote:

You know, I haven't seen such a mean-spirited people as I've seen lately over this issue of health care. Some of the racism we thought was buried. Didn't it surface? Now, we endured eight years of the Bush's and we didn't do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black president.

And yup, the crowd applauds at that one.


Sounds racist to me......


As uncaring about the "people" as the Republicans are and having crappy leaders and crapy you see or hear the Repulicans go after each other????????? NO!!!! They always hang together...right, wrong, or lock step, never contradicting their crazies like Beck, O'Rielly, and Hannity.
If we, the Democrats and the minority voters (me,Mexican American) help the Republicans do Pres Obama in....we deserve whatever we get next.
The President can't do everything at once although he sure is trying. His worst sin, to spend money to just "save" us from the greedy, is, according to all economists and the history of Japan and other countries who have gone through the same thing, and has been proven to be THE RIGHT THING TO DO!!!
Once we voted for him, we need to trust him and give him the time to proceed.....he has done soooooooooooo much already....taken steps that had eluded other Presidents...I get ANGRY,SO VERY, VERY ANGRY listening to all the petty complaining from the very people who elected him and who should be standing by him....
The culprits in the Sherrod firing are in the Agriculture Department. I used to work in the Office of Civil Rights at the Agriculture Dept (14 years) and you can be sure that that Southern white manager who proudly displayed a hangman's noose on his desk wasn't immediately fired. In fact, he is probably still in the same position. Ag has a very long history of acting the way they did with Ms Sherrod. That is Ag's way of managing. And, yes, Ms Sherrod is's about those with the "power"
I was removed much as Ms Sherrod was...with accusations which were never investigated....I had a 32 year career not just with Agriculture but with the Air Force as a civilian....
In blaming, President Obama you are guilty of the very thing you are complaining about. You are throwing President Obama under the bus without the true facts. You are totally missing the horrible point. Agriculture, The Last Plantation, has the history of abusing their most dedicated employees....before you start blaming the President.....YOU SHOULD START DOING SOME RESEARCH OF THE FACTS FOR YOURSELVES!!!!!

Oh spare me the drama

Of course the culprits are in the AG Dept. and Obama appointed a Monsanto flunkie, Vilsack to run that Dept. Let me ask you this, in doing "your" research. How many of the dicks and assholes you worked for or under in the federal government have been fired? House much "house cleaning" has Obama done. Why hasn't he found the money to settle the Black farmer's suit, seems he has no problem funding wars? Did he really need to send marines and 47 warships to COSTA RICA of all places????

You Obamabots are something else, a bigger warmonger than Bush, based upon FACTS, throwing the teacher's unions under the bus, based on FACTS, reacting like a scared little bitch to the Right Wing media every other week, based FACTS, selling out to big Pharma and the HMO's on Health Care, based on FACTS, no stoppage in no-bid contracts to Defense Contractor whores, based on FACTS, capitulating to Israel like a 3 yr old, based on FACTS. If you want facts we can collectively supply them in bushels. Maybe you should stop basing "your facts" on what's in your "heart" and more on what's in your "head." Read more BAR, and Common Dreams, and Truthdig and Counterpunch, and World Socialist Website and less CNN and NY Times.

Obama is a DLC, Neo-Liberal Blue Dog in sheep's clothing. BAR and bloggers have been saying so for years, you, among the other sheeple believed his hope and change lie, not WE.

No one is saying Obama is the cause of INSTITUTIONAL RACISM AND DEPRIVATIONS AND WARMONGERING, or that he can fix it overnight, we're saying he's part of the continuum, we're saying not only has he not lifted a finger to make things better, he's made them worse, BASED ON FACTS. We're saying if he had some balls and a spine, he AND the Democratic Party, "we the people" would have more progressive policies, less wars, less bailouts, less attacks on unions, more social safety net and so on. BTW, the FBI and Secret Service is racist too, BASED ON FACTS. So what's your point? We don't play this "team" bullshit, we call it like we see it. As a Black man, a "Black" president who acts and conducts his policies like a white boy don't mean shit to me. I could care less if the Rethugs gain control and continue this countries downward spiral, I'd rather deal with "Jaws" than be fooled that his dorsal fin is "Flipper." For example, once upon a time, there was a so-callled antiwar movement when Bush was in office, but now that "our" meaning "your" team is in power, we are suppose to engage in amoral familialism.

Why hasn't Obama used his executive prerogative and clean house like every other president? Why don't you give us FACTS that explains Obama's continuity with Bush, keeping gaggles of Bush leftovers in HIS administration whereas Bush PURGED the government of Clinton holdovers. Give us some FACTS to explain that?

Blind allegiance to the Dummocrats ain't happening here, I don't and won't play on Obama's team, his playbook looks a like what McCain's team playbook would have been.

It doesn't bother you that Obama said NOTHING about murder and repression in 1965 and how the black farmer's suit is a reminder that we are not there" (whatever the fuck "there" is), instead of acting like a bitch, running scared from Beck, he could have used the Breitbart BIG LIE to push for a final settlement for the Black farmers, he could have shamed these bastards instead of tucking his tail. You can believe in hope and change bullshit all you want and ignore the fact that Vilasack got a call from the WH before he asked Ms. Sherrod to pullover and submit her resignation, FOR SOMETHING NEITHER RESEARCHED BY THEM AND that she said OVER 24 YEARS AGO. Where's your outrage with that??!!

If you want some facts, here's your assignment, before you go bloviating do some research on how Brietbart LIED ABOUT ACORN, and how Obama and the Dummocrats tucked their tale on that one. Spare us the faux drama.

They defunded ACORN based on Breitbart and Right Wing lies, even the chickenshit NY Times admitted this, but did they investigate and reinstitute funding? Facts?? To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, "you don't want the truth, you can't handle the truth (facts).

Physic Out or PsyOtped

I’ve been saying this for a long time that Obama is a pawn in someone else’s game and the Shirley Sherrod debacle is just the latest example of this salient fact and undeniable truth. How many times do we have to see this story play out before we take the hints and get the clues??? Fox Noise and all its jackals keep playing the same game “Lets scare the Shit out of the Nigga” and it works to perfection every time. The Obama administration right on cue acted like Chicken Little running around screaming “the sky is falling” and looking like straight up whole FOOLS!!! Not only did the Obama and his crew get played but the NAACP got played right along with them. They clamed they were snookered, no you didn’t get snookered you got JACKED and BITCH SLAPPED plain and simple.

It is utterly amazing how this easily debunk able lie turned into the shit storm that it became. The folks in the Obama administration are suppose to be the smartest guys in the room from the most hollowed universities in the country and have enough degrees to pave the beltway around DC. But they never considered the source of this pile of stinking manure, did they??? Nor did they do any checking to see if the video clip was authentic. In an age when anything created electronically can be easily manipulated to no end (IE PhotoShoped or Vegas edited) you would think that these guys would have thought of these things. But NOOO they did not do ether of those things they went into panic mode and acted more like scared sissies. How does this happen???

There are only a couple of reasons I can think of from my point of view. First the smartest guys in the room are not that smart after all (think Bush aka Turd Blossom). You would think that after Van Jones, Acorn and more recently the Fake Black Panther nonsense that the Obama administration would do more diligent fact checking on anything that has Fox Noise stench or finger prints on it. You would think that if these guys were as on point as they project themselves to be they should have seen this coming blindfolded in the dark. They have all the technical resources of the government at their disposal that they could have used to authenticate this video and tell them if it had been edited (Just recently someone busted BP PotoShoping some images). They could have done some fact checking on Mrs. Sherrod and found out the history about her. That kind of due diligence would have squashed this whole thing before it had a chance to blow up in their faces. But did they do that??? Here is some advice for the brain trust at the WH “If you don’t know you better ask somebody”!!!

Secondly the Obama administration could be a WILLING PARTNER in a big perception management PsyOps game that is being played on US!!! It is an unspoken truth that the government creates as much news as actually happens. For those of us who still know/remember how to use critical thinking skills, we know that Corporate America/Government through Madison Ave/Mass Media and the talking clowns that regurgitate their talking points are constantly trying to manage our perceptions. Could it be that this administration and the media are partners in this madness??? Call me crazy but the truth is stranger than fiction, maybe this is a misdirection designed to take the publics focus off of the BP disaster or two wars gone way bad wrong and we had no business starting in the first place or the Wikileaks revelations who knows. All I do know is that the Obama administration has the resources and tools to have put this fire out before it turned into the media conflagration that it has but did nothing. With that in mind it is not a big leap to see that maybe just maybe the administration and the media were in bed together on this and Mrs. Sherrod was just the patsy that got wacked.

And Lets not leave out the NAACP. Mrs. Sherrod made the speech at a NAACP event; Don’t they keep the tapes of these events??? If anybody could have and should have blown the whistle on this crap it should have been the NAACP!!! They more than anybody else should have KNOWN the truth and the history about Shirley and should have went to bat on her behalf and stood shoulder to shoulder with her. But did they do that??? NOOO they left her dangling in the wind like a bunch of Punk Ass Bitches!!! Another fine example of Black Leadership OOPS I mean MISLEADERSHIP!!! What does it say about the NAACP when they abandon a person with the civil rights history of Mrs. Sherrod??? Who gave a speech at one of their events and they had to know the contents of the WHOLE speech before anyone else or at least should have known and should have conveyed the facts of the speech to refute the lie that was being spit into the news stream. Seems like the lights are on but nobody is at home in that house ether. LOL Pleeeease Help Us ALL!!!


S Murph

@S Murph

LOL. I thought this was the "Smart Power" Administration???
Looks more like the Keystone Cops.

Great summation.

Rev Wright, Van Jones, ACORN, now Shirely Sherrod;

Obama's track record has been since the Rev Wright hype - whipped up by FIXed Noise [FOX so-called News] types has been to throw anyone they target [especially if they're Black] to the FOXes - if anything the Wright affair taught him to do it with a quickness. So Glenn [Obama is a Racist] Beck targets Van Jones- who co-founded an organization that strategically targeted Beck for slandering Obama as 'a guy who hates white-people'... End result - no challenge to Beck's outrageous remarks or simply ignore his dumb ass, but instead Obama kicks Van Jones to the curb. Next ACORN - & though it was Congress [both the GOP w the Dems quick to jump aboard] which spear-headed the De-fund ACORN act based on a selectively edited & purposely misleading video released on - you guessed it FIXed Noise again; Obama didn't say a word to defend ACORN- which registered many inner-city Blacks & Browns that voted overwhelmingly for him [& the Dems]- & thus had long been in the gun sights of FOX, Rove & the Bushites, & the GOP. And Obama's supposedly a constitutional lawyer but he [& most Dems] didn't even point out that he [& the Dems] couldn't back the De-fund ACORN act because it violated the Constitution!!! Now FIXed Noise targets & slanders another Black in Obama's Admin - Shirely Sherrod [w racism] using the same deliberately misleading tactics -&- before she gets a chance to explain her side of the story or even reads the entire transcript from a speech given this year at the NAACP [so why did Ben Jealous initially buy into this lie] about a situation some 20-odd yrs ago; he's got people calling her while she's driving down the hi-way demanding that she quit!!! All he had to do was ask the white farm family who was supposedly aggrieved by Ms Sherrod about her & they would have defended her against these FOXes on the loose in the White-house!!! Hell he even gave Sgt Crowley a chance to explain himself over a beer at the White-house. If this is how he treats Blacks who are supposedly close to him as soon as the FOXes start howling, what should 'ordinary' Blacks expect him to do for them???


August 2, 2010
The Story of Annie Hawkins and New Communities, Inc.
The Other Side of Shirley Sherrod


Imagine farm workers doing back breaking labor in the sweltering sun, sprayed with pesticides and paid less than minimum wage. Imagine the United Farm Workers called in to defend these laborers against such exploitation by management. Now imagine that the farm workers are black children and adults and that the managers are Shirley Sherrod, her husband Rev. Charles Sherrod, and a host of others. But it’s no illusion; this is fact.

The swirling controversy over the racist dismissal of Shirley Sherrod from her USDA post has obscured her profoundly oppositional behavior toward black agricultural workers in the 1970s. What most of Mrs. Sherrod’s supporters are not aware of is the elitist and anti-black-labor role that she and fellow managers of New Communities Inc. (NCI) played. These individuals under-paid, mistreated and fired black laborers–many of them less than 16 years of age–in the same fields of southwest Georgia where their ancestors suffered under chattel slavery.


Please read the complete article at the CounterPunch


Which explains how she could vouch for someone like Sanford Bishop, a DLC troll.

Looks like she only learned lessons about "class" AFTER the fact. Like I said, every chump wants to be a "Middle Manager." It's the American Dream.

Wilkins Article

The Wilkins article seems like crap. The community farm that the Sherrods helped cooperative farm run by a committee of farmers with the land being owned communally. Sherrod didn't exploit anyone. Heres a great article by Sherrod.

I disagree with the implication that white farmers and workers benefit from racism. Only a small minority of very wealthy white people profit from racism. Both white and black farmers have been hurting for the last few decades, and the fact that black farmers have been hurt worse, hasn't done the white farmers any good. Sherrods new position of calling for unity of the poor of whatever race is more not less militant then her previous positiont that everyone should towards others of "their" people to take care of them.