On CNN Newsroom with Tony Harris, Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA official who was the subject of a virtual lynch mob ignited by Andrew Breitbart, spoke for 15 minutes. She addressed why she did not accept the offers to return either to her old job at the Department of Agriculture or to a new position. She also talked at length about how she’s responded to her unjust ousting and what she wants next.

I typed furiously to gather some choice quotes as accurately as possible, but there may be small errors in my transcription. Consider this a selective, rush transcript of some of the most noteworthy sections, but please watch the full video yourselves. This woman has more wisdom and patience than most would after what she’s been through.

On why she didn’t accept the new position of Deputy Director for the Office of Outreach and Advocacy, “Everything that should happen with that position hasn’t been made clear.” So in other words, no, she’s not accepting some job that hasn’t been defined.

“When you look at everything that’s happened recently, I still have some questions in my mind about whether or not i would really be effective in that position.”

Explaining that it’s about more than the support of Secretary Vilsack, Sherrod seems to hint that the her unjust ousting has infected the department in a way that might limit or undermine her effectiveness (my interpretation): “I’m sure the secretary was sincere with the offer. I believe the secretary would do all that he could to assist me in the position, but the secretary is not the only person you deal with as we saw with what happened to me.”

On what she hopes comes of all this: “I’m hoping that because of all that I went through, all that I continue to deal with, at least in the future people will think first…. look before quickly and hastily making a decision, a decision that had the impact that the decision about me had.”

On those in the media still painting her as a racist, “If i’m a racist, I’d really like to know what they call the others. If i’m a racist, someone please explain to me what a racist is.”

When asked what she talked about in her USDA meetings, Sherrod said they discussed the black farmer’s lawsuit and the fact that the Senate still has not authorized the court-approved payments owed these farmers.

A quick note on why this is so important: Black farmers, who were organized in part by Shirley Sherrod, sued the USDA for discrimination in the 80’s and 90’s. The government settled for 1.2 billion, and now the Senate refuses to pay up by continually stripping the payments from various spending bills. Even when there’s been a ruling for justice, justice is slow to come.

Tony harris suggested she could have gotten Senate to approve these payments had she returned to a position at USDA. Sherrod replied, “I don’t think i have that much power.”

Continuing, Sherrod talked about her work in Georgia: “No one asked me about the work I was doing in georgia with rural development, targetting the 9 poorest counties in the state” for USDA programs.” She hasn’t spoken to President Obama again, but her invitation for him to visit Southwest Georgia stands:

I would love to have him come to Southwest Georgia and help him understand some of the issues on the ground that some of us face on a daily basis. I invited him. He didn’t say he would come, but that invitation is definitely out there. Iwould like him to understand what people in the rural areas really deal with.

On whether Secretary Vilsack apologized again:

Yes he’s done that over and over. My message to him was we need to move forward. It happened. We can’t take it back. The whole world knows that it happened. If we can work together on changes from this point, then that’s what we need to do

On support she’s gotten and what she wants to see in America

I’ve been so happy about the outpouring of support i’ve received. I’m encouraged that there are people that want to seriously talk about the racism that exists in this country to see if we can try to deal with it and move forward in this country. I would like to see us once and for all deal with racism, deal with trying to see how we, as the many different ethnic groups in this country, how we can figure out how to live together here. It’s a great country, let’s figure out how to make it even greater.

I’ve had many many people from around the country asking me to come and speak… I would also like to be able to find people wherever they live [in] communities that are really seriously trying to deal with the issue of racism and highlight those. We hear the bad. I think we need to hear the good tha’s happening out there. Maybe it will inspire others to begin working together, and if we could get that movment going, maybe changes will happen in this country.

On if she’s angry: “I can’t even get angry… If you’re angry you can’t think straight. You can’t move forward. You’re stuck at a point.”

Beautifully said.

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