Shirley Sherrod, kibbutznik


For those reading in from Mars, Shirley Sherrod is the U.S. Department of Agriculture official sacked this week after conservative flamethrower Andrew Breitbart posted a video of a speech she gave edited to convey the precise opposite of her meaning.

Her moving account of how she moved beyond her suspicions of whites when she advocated for poor Georgia farmers in the 1980s, and became a farm-saving advocate for a white family, was convoluted to represent her as a triumphalist black nationalist.

Everyone and his sister is falling over herself now to apologize/laud/canonize Sherrod, and she does come across as a truly classy, inspiring individual.

Her backstory is what helps makes this fascinating. A white man murdered her father in 1963, when she was 17, and was never tried. The experience made her determined to defend the rights of farmers like her father and to stay in the South (she had until then dreamed of leaving and becoming anything but a farmer.)

She joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and married Charles Sherrod, notable then and now as a civil rights leader.

According to to this account at Fort Valley State University, her alma mater, the couple were determined to discover strategies to combat discrimination against black farmers by the government bodies that had been set up  to assist farmers and save them from bankruptcy. In 1968, they started what amounted to a collective farm:

In 1968, armed with knowledge, the SNCC members returned to Georgia to develop a community. They obtained a 6,000 acre land trust in Lee County, Ga for New Communities, Incorporated established with other black families. They received funding for its development, but Governor Maddox called a halt to further expansion. Despite the roadblock, the group pushed forward and built train tracks, sugar cane mills, grew corn, peanuts, soy beans and also processed meats.

Where did the Sherrods acquire this knowledge?

On a kibbutz.

(H/t TPM)

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