- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod is publicly patching up relations with the NAACP after the group’s president condemned her for misconstrued comments she made about race that sparked a national furor.

Mrs. Sherrod and NAACP President Ben Jealous will appear together at a rural development conference in Alabama on Saturday, and Mrs. Sherrod has written a letter to the group’s members encouraging them to fight racism, like she has.

Mr. Jealous traveled to Mrs. Sherrod’s house in Albany, Ga., two weeks ago to apologize once more for being “hoodwinked” as he called it by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

Mr. Breitbart’s website posted an edited clip of a March speech to a local NAACP group in which Mrs. Sherrod appeared to be saying she had been reluctant to help a white farmer seeking her help in the early 1980s. But the full speech recounted how Mrs. Sherrod said she quickly learned from that mistake.

Mrs. Sherrod was asked by top Agriculture Department officials to resign from her post as Georgia’s director of rural development when the blog post began to make news. Mr. Jealous sent out a statement the same day saying the group was “appalled” by her actions, which he called “shameful” and “intolerable.” He apologized after hearing her full remarks the next day.

“That’s behind us, and the last thing I want to see happen is my situation weaken support for the NAACP,” Mrs. Sherrod said in the letter.

Mrs. Sherrod did not mention whether she would take the new job she was offered by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack after USDA officials saw the full video and reconsidered their hasty decision to ask her to leave.

In the letter, Mrs. Sherrod equates the messy aftermath of Mr. Breitbart’s blog posting to her struggles after her father was murdered by a white man 45 years ago.

Mrs. Sherrod said last month that she would sue Mr. Breitbart, who has said one point of the edited video was that members of the NAACP audience applauded the passage where Mrs. Sherrod talked about not helping the white farmer.

“He had to know that he was targeting me,” Mrs. Sherrod said then.

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