Tonight on 360°, an exclusive interview Shirley Sherrod. Will she accept the offer to return to the USDA with a new assignment? We have her first live interview since Secretary Vilsack made her the offer. Plus, possible tropical trouble for the Gulf.
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Shirley Miller Sherrod has spent most of her life fighting injustice.
On the Baker County, Georgia, farm where the Miller family grew corn, peanuts, cotton and cucumbers and raised hogs, cows and goats, oldest daughter Shirley despised the work.
"I swore I would never have anything to do with a farm past high school," she said Wednesday with an easy chuckle. "I would talk to the sun as I picked cotton and picked cucumbers and worked out there in that hot field, and [say], 'This is not the life for me.' I didn't want to have anything to do with agriculture ever again."
Shirley Sherrod can have a new job at the USDA if she wants it. That's what Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters this evening. He also apologized to Sherrod for forcing her to resign on Monday based on the edited video of a speech she gave in March.
"This is a good woman. She's been put through hell," Vilsack said of Sherrod.
Vilsack said he learned a lot from this experience.
"I didn't take the time, I should have. And as a result, a good woman ... went through a very difficult period, and I will have to live with that for a long, long time."
The leader of the USDA went on to say, "I hope she considers staying with the department."
He also reiterated "this was my decision."
Vilsack's mea culpa comes just a couple hours after White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters "without a doubt Ms. Sherrod is owed an apology."
Sherrod welcomed the message from Vilsack.
"This shouldn't have happened. It took too long. But it makes me feel better," she told CNN.
In the edited video posted online by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, Sherrod, who is African-American, tells a Georgia chapter of the NAACAP on March 27 that she did not give a white farmer "the full force of what she could do" to help him save his farm more than 20 years ago.
But later in the tape, which was not posted online by Breitbart, Sherrod goes on to tell the audience, "working with [the farmer] made me see that it's really about those who have versus those who have not. They could be black. They could be white. They could be Hispanic."
It turned out Sherrod actually did help the white farmer, Roger Spooner, save his farm. Spooner came forward Tuesday to tell CNN, "I don't know what brought up the racist mess."
Tonight we learned Breitbart has posted two corrections on his blog entries about the video. We'll have that for you tonight.
Anderson will also talk with Sherrod. The big question: Will she return to the USDA?
You'll also hear from four people who were in the audience last March in Georgia when Sherrod gave the speech.
Conservative blogger Breitbart has taken aim at all who were present.
"What you see on the video are people in the audience at an organization whose sole job is to fight against discrimination and they're applauding her overt racism that she is representing," he said last night on CNN's John King USA.
The five people we spoke to vehemently disagree. Hear what that have to say about this controversy tonight on the program.
We also have developments on the Gulf oil disaster. Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the spill said today BP could try the 'static kill' by this weekend to permanently seal the broken well. That's if the weather cooperates.
We'll check in with meteorologist Chad Myers for the latest on the tropical system that could pose trouble for the Gulf.
And keep in mind, the 'static kill' could bury the only hard evidence we'll have on how much oil was flowing into the Gulf, meaning our government could miss out the proper fine for BP. We’re keeping them honest on that angle of the story.
Join us for all this and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.
CNN Wire Staff
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he apologized to Shirley Sherrod for forcing her to resign from her government job in Georgia based on incomplete and misleading reports of a speech she gave.
Vilsack told reporters that he alone made the decision regarding Sherrod, with no White House involvement.
He spoke to Sherrod earlier Wednesday and said he asked for her forgiveness, which she gave. Vilsack also said he offered Sherrod another job in the department, and she was taking a few days to think about it.
Statement by Dr. Malik Zulu Shabazz, esq.
Attorney and National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party and founder of Black Lawyers for Justice.
"The New Black Panther Party has done nothing wrong and never engaged in voter intimidation. Because there was no evidence that the New Black Party planned, participated in nor condoned the acts of a single member in Nov 2008, the Justice department rightfully dropped the charges against the organization. However the Justice Department successfully sustained an injunction against a single member for his individual action, which was outside organizational policy. Therefore, there is no controversy here because justice was done and the case decided on its merits, or lack of evidence.
Our position is that this whole controversy, and other current controversies- i.e. The USDA Sherrod fiasco are Republican or right wing- tea party strategies to drum up support and drive dissatisfied white voters to the polls for the fall mid-term elections. The Republicans are overtly making boogeymen out of New Black Panther Party, the, NAACP, Ms. Sherrod in order stir up racial fears, and as they say 'take back the country' which we interpret as 'take back the country' from Blacks and a Black President.
I believe that President Obama is a victim of prejudice and an age old double standard that he has to perform five times as good as his white counterpart in order to be judged fairly. No matter what he does the Republicans are sure to oppose him even if they oppose the best interests of their own country.
For the record, the New Black Panther party is not racist nor a hate group and has worked many years in the cities and counties of America on the issues of violence, self-education. Fighting hate crimes and police abuse. Dr. Malik Zulu Shabazz. And the NBPP currently enjoy the support of Reverend Al Sharpton, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Jesse Jackson over a dozen Congressional Black Caucus Members and many Black Mayors and Judges across the nation. We have 60 chapters in the U.S. and abroad. "
Statement on 7 21 2010. By Dr.Malik Zulu Shabazz,esq.. Attorney and National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party and founder of Black Lawyers for Justice."
CNN Wire Staff
BP could try an operation by this weekend to permanently seal its breached Gulf of Mexico oil well - but only if federal officials approve the plan and BP gets a crucial casing in place, the government's point man on the oil spill said Wednesday.
The tactic, called a "static kill," involves pumping mud into the well to force oil back into the reservoir below.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who's leading the federal response to the spill, told reporters time is of the essence because of the potential for severe weather coming from the Caribbean. BP is not attempting to get the casing in place until they determine what the weather may do, he said.
Roland S. Martin
There is no issue that is more volatile, passionate, confusing, perplexing and complex than the reality of race in America.
Whether we are discussing the motives of the Tea Party, the legal ramifications of the new Arizona immigration law, the impact of the Supreme Court deciding a discrimination case involving white firefighters, or the speech of a Department of Agriculture official at an NAACP convention, race is an issue that permeates so many of our discussions, whether we want to admit it or not.
The latest flare-up in this ever-evolving story involves Shirley Sherrod, a USDA official, who became a national story when Andrew Breitbart's website, BigGovernment.com, posted a video that seemed to show her admitting to discriminating against a white farmer.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks towards North Korea as US Secretary of Defense stands by as they visit the dimilitary zone that divides North and South Korea on July 21, 2010. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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