Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod told a crowd in San Diego Thursday that she will sue a conservative blogger who posted an edited video of her making racially tinged remarks last week.
The edited video posted by Andrew Breitbart led Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to ask Sherrod to resign, a decision he reconsidered after seeing the entire video of her March speech to a local NAACP group. In the full speech, Sherrod spoke of racial reconciliation and lessons she learned after initially hesitating to help a white farmer save his home.
"She basically is what I would call a warrior and we have lost the respect for these warriors and we have lost the lesson of what they teach us -- which is, you have to stand and fight for the things you believe in," said managing editor of The Root Joel Dreyfuss at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) annual convention in San Diego.
Sherrod said she doesn't want an apology from Breitbart for posting the video that took her comments out of context, but told a crowd at NABJ that she would "definitely sue."
"We're thinking that the journalists who did kind of smear her name should have just known better. Should have known not to take a clip without putting it into context, or showing a link to the entire thing so that we, as the public, can put it all into perspective,” said Christi Crowder from Blog Rollers Media.
Vilsack and President Barack Obama later called Sherrod to apologize for her hasty ouster. Vilsack has offered her a new job at the department, which she is still considering.
"I have many, many questions before I can make a decision," Sherrod told the group. "I don't know what will happen from this day forward in terms of whether I'll be back in the department or what I'll do."
Obama said Thursday morning on ABC's daytime talk show "The View" that the incident shows racial tensions still exist in America. "There are still inequalities out there. There's still discrimination out there," Obama said. "But we've made progress."
Obama pinned much of the blame for the incident on a media culture that he said seeks out conflict and doesn't always get the facts right. But he added, "A lot of people overreacted, including people in my administration."
"We need to do our homework ... we need to research more, ask more questions. Isn't that what we were taught to do as journalists? We haven't done that, and we certainly didn't do a good job here," said Sheila Brooks from SRB Communications.