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article imageUSDA official accused of racism, resigns

By Jason Smith     Jul 20, 2010 in Politics
A black USDA official resigned after she had publicly said that she did not help a white farmer 24 years ago to the "full force" of her power when he was trying to save his farm.
Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, accepted Shirley Sharrod's resignation, adding that there was "zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA," reports MSNBC. Sherrod, however, insists that her remarks to the NAACP were intentionally misconstrued by conservative groups. Sherrod told CNN that the incident she described occurred about 24 years ago when she worked for a nonprofit aid group. "I was telling the story of how working with him helped me to see the issue is not about race. it's about those who have versus those who don't have."
Eloise Spooner, the farmer's wife, told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Tuesday that Sherrod helped save their land. Spooner considered Sherrod a "friend for life" and said that "the federal official worked tirelessly to help" them hold onto their farm when they faced bankruptcy, reports the Atlanta newspaper.
Her husband told her, "Your spending more time with the Spooners than you are with me."
Sherrod was traveling on Monday when Cheryl Cook, USDA deputy undersecretary, called her and informed her that the White House wished her to resign. Sherrod told the Associated Press, "They called me twice. The last time they asked me to pull over the side of the road and submit my resignation on my Blackberry, and that's what I did."
According to MSNBC, a USDA spokeswoman would not comment on whether or not the White House took part in this. However, Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the agency has no tolerance for discrimination.
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