Shirley Sherrod told the Obama administration this morning she’s not interested in coming back to work for the Department of Agriculture, at least not right now. Sherrod said she needs “a little break” after all of the hubbub surrounding her ousting, but that she may work with the administration in some capacity later.
Sherrod spoke to reporters after a morning meeting with Secretary Tom Vilsack, who canned her after Andrew Breitbart published of a heavily edited video purporting to show Sherrod admitting to bias against white farmers. The full video revealed exactly the opposite. Both Vilsack and President Obama have apologized to Sherrod and had offered her a job working on civil rights issues in the department. NPR reports on how Sherrod described this morning’s meeting:
“The secretary did push really, really hard for me to stay and work from the inside,” she told reporters. “I think I can be helpful to him and the department if I just take a little break and look at how I can be more helpful in the future.”
Sherrod said she’s received “many, many thousands” of letters supporting her and added:
I need a little time to be able to deal with that, to sort of take a break from some of all that I’ve had to deal with over the last few weeks. And I look forward to some type of relationship with the Department in the future. We do need to work on the issues of discrimination and racism in this country, and I certainly would like to play my role in trying to help deal with it.
Vilsack was at the press conference as well and, according to NPR, confessed, “I disappointed this administration. I disappointed the country. And I disappointed Shirley. And I have to live with that.” Vilsack has continually insisted he alone was responsible for the administration’s wild overreaction to Breitbart’s smear and Obama has placed the blame on “this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles.” Sherrod, meanwhile, maintained as the story broke that it was clear to her that her ousting was driven by the White House.
Sherrod has also said she has every intention of suing Breitbart for pushing the deceptive video. Asked about that this morning, she said, “I do think a suit will be forthcoming.”