Obama calls Sherrod, voicing regret

09:17, July 23, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday called Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department employee who was wrongly accused of racism, to express his regret over her "misfortune."

The White House said Obama called Sherrod at noon, and expressed his regret about the events of the last several days. He emphasized that Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack was sincere in his apology Wednesday, and in his work to rid the department of racial discrimination.

The incident involving Sherrod stems from remarks she made in March. In the clip posted Monday by a conservative website, Sherrod, an African American, described in a speech an incident over a decade ago when she worked for a farm aid group.

In the clip, Sherrod said a white farmer came to her for help in 1986, and the farmer acted "superior" to her and she "didn't give him the full force of what I could do."

But eventually, the white farmer's situation made her realize white people are also struggling like blacks, and helping farmers wasn't about race but was "about the poor versus those who have."

The video caused a backlash, and she was pressured to resign from the Agriculture Department. However, it was later revealed that the remarks were taken out of context, and the speech was actually about learning from mistakes and racial reconciliation, not racism. The family of the white farmer in the story stood by Sherrod.

The issue grabbed national attention, and the White House Wednesday offered Sherrod an apology. Vilsack also called her to apologize, and offered to hire her back.

During their seven-minute phone discussion, Obama told Sherrod that her misfortune can present "an opportunity for her to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need," and he hopes that she will do so.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张茜)

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