Ousted Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she wants to speak directly with President Obama about her firing.
Sherrod said that she does not think Obama has a grasp about her past experiences dealing with racial discrimination and wants assurances from him that things will change at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged Wednesday has a long history of racial problems.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs apologized on behalf of the Obama administration Wednesday for Sherrod’s firing. Vilsack asked for her resignation this week after video emerged of her making racially charged comments at a Georgia NAACP meeting. The footage was later found to be taken out of context.
Vilsack held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to take full responsibility for the incident and offered her a new position at the department dealing with civil rights issues. But Sherrod, who is black, said she was not sure she would accept the offer.
“I really — I know he talked about discrimination in the agency and after all these years, that’s still happening,” she said. “I would not want to be the one person in the agency who everyone is looking at to clear up discrimination in the Department of Agriculture.”
She also said that she wants to speak with the nation’s first black president about racial discrimination.
“He’s not someone who has experienced some of the things I have experienced through life, being a person of color,” she said. “He might need to hear some of the things I need to say to him.”