Shirley Sherrod Says She'll Sue Andrew Breitbart

An undated photo provided by the United States Department of Agriculture shows USDA official Shirley Sherrod. Sherrod is at the center of a racially tinged firestorm involving the Obama administration and the NAACP. Sherrod was ousted Tuesday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack over her comments that she didn't give a white farmer as much help as she could have 24 years ago. (AP Photo/United States Department of Agriculture) AP Photo

Updated at 3:51 p.m. ET

Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will sue a conservative blogger who posted a video edited in a way that made her appear racist.

Sherrod was forced to resign as director of rural development in Georgia after Andrew Breitbart posted the edited video online. In the full video, Sherrod, who is black, spoke to a local NAACP group about racial reconciliation and lessons she learned after initially hesitating to help a white farmer save his home.

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Speaking Thursday at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, Sherrod said she would "definitely" sue over the video that took her remarks out of context. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has since offered Sherrod a new job in the department in advocacy and outreach. She has not decided whether to accept.

"I am so far from being able to do that," Sherrod said at the convention. "I have not had a chance to read the offer. [The] offer says 'draft.' I need to ask them what that means."

Sherrod said she had not received an apology from Breitbart and no longer wanted one.

"He had to know that he was targeting me," she said.

Breitbart did not immediately respond to a call or e-mails seeking comment. He has said he posted the portion of the speech where she expresses reservations about helping the white farmer to prove that racism exists in the NAACP, which had just demanded that the tea party movement renounce any bigoted elements. Some members of the NAACP audience appeared to approve when Sherrod described her reluctance to help the farmer.

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The farmer's wife came forward after Sherrod resigned, saying Sherrod had eventually helped them save their farm.

Vilsack and President Barack Obama later called Sherrod to apologize for her hasty ouster. Obama said Thursday that Sherrod "deserves better than what happened last week."

Obama said Thursday morning on ABC's daytime talk show "The View" that the incident shows racial tensions still exist in America.

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."

Addressing the National Urban League, he said the full story Sherrod was trying to tell "is exactly the kind of story we need to hear in America."

At the journalists convention, Sherrod was asked what could be done to ensure accurate coverage as conservatives like Breitbart attack the NAACP and other liberal groups.

Sherrod, 62, responded that members of her generation who were in the civil rights movement "tried too much to shield that hurt and pain from younger people. We have to do a better job of helping those individuals who get these positions, in the media, in educational institutions, in the presidency, we have to make sure they understand the history so they can do a better job."

She said Obama is one of those who need a history lesson.

"That's why I invited him to southwest Georgia. I need to take him around and show him some of that history," Sherrod said.

Despite her experience, Sherrod said she believes the country can heal its racial divisions - if people are willing to confront the issue.

"Young African-Americans, young whites, too, we've done such a job of trying to be mainstream that we push things under the rug that we need to talk about. And then we get to situations like this," she said.

"I truly believe that we can come together in this country. But you don't (come together) by not talking to each other. You don't get there by pushing things under the rug."

Sherrod said her faulty firing should not be blamed on all media.

Before the full video was released, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said Sherrod should be fired, and others called her speech racist. O'Reilly later apologized.

"They had a chance to get the facts out, and they weren't interested," Sherrod said.

She said she declined to give Fox an interview because she believed they were not interested in pursuing the truth. "They would have twisted it," she said.

A Fox News spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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