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The Courage to Hope: How I Stood Up to the Politics of Fearby Shirley Sherrod
Synopses & Reviews
In the summer of 2010, Shirley Sherrod was catapulted into a media storm that blew apart her life and her job doing what she’d done for decades: helping poor, hardworking people live the American dream. She was a lifelong activist who served as Georgia’s first black director of rural development.
A right-wing blogger, the now late Andrew Breitbart, disseminated a video clip of a speech Sherrod had given to the Georgia NAACP, intending to make her an example of “reverse racism.” The right-wing media ramped up the outrage, and before Sherrod had a chance to defend herself, the Obama administration demanded her resignation. Then, after hearing from Sherrod herself and learning the entire truth of what she said in that speech, the administration tried to backtrack. As public officials and media professionals admitted to being duped and apologized for their rush to judgment, Sherrod found herself the subject of a teachable moment.
The Courage to Hope addresses this regret-table episode in American politics, but it also tells Sherrod’s own story of growing up on a farm in southwest Georgia during the final violent years of Jim Crow. As a child she dreamed of leaving the South, but when her father was murdered by a white neighbor who was never brought to justice, Sherrod made a vow to stay in Georgia and commit herself to the cause of truth and racial healing. With her husband, Charles, a legend in the civil rights movement, she has devoted her life to empowering poor people and rural communities—Americans who are most in need.
The incident that brought Sherrod into the spotlight does not define her life and work, but it strengthens her commitment to stand against the politics of fear and have the courage to hope.
Shirley Sherrod shares what it was like to be the center of a media firestorm after she was forced to resign from the USDA after false charges.
On Monday, July 19, 2010, Shirley Sherrod was fired from her position as George State Director for Rural Development at the USDA, in response to allegations made by a blogger that she was racist. He based his argument on statements she’d made in a video clip he’d extracted from a speech. Neither the White House nor the NAACP looked at the entire video nor made any investigation into her and the matter before they decided it best to let her go. When the full video came to light, Ben Jealous of the NAACP publicly and privately apologized to her for his rush to judgment and the Obama administration tried to clean the matter up by offering her another job.
In this moving and sometimes shocking book, Shirley reveals what went on behind the media coverage and she shares stories of what has gone on in this country for decades to work against the efforts of poor people, white and black, and farmers across the country. She also shares stories of how sometimes, justice does prevail.
About the Author
Catherine Whitney has coauthored many books on legal, political, and social issues. She lives in New York.
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