Shirley Sherrod has, in the last 24 hours, become the face of a quandary that has confronted Americans since the Declaration of Independence declared "all men are created equal" in 1776.
What our laws declare is not what our hearts and minds have as readily accepted.
Bigorty, prejudice, racial division and racial hatred did not disappear with the publishing of those words in 1776. Those evils have stubbornly persisted, even to this day.
Shirley Sherrod did work for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Until yesterday. That's when she was forced to resign by the White House.
Her firing is egregiously unfair.
Because she was victimized by a videotape of a speech she gave which did not tell, as Paul Harvey so famously said, the rest of the story.
Shirley Sherrod admitted to an NAACP group in Georgia this spring she found herself wanting not to help a white farmer who came to her 24 years ago seeking help to save his land from bankruptcy. She had seen too many black farmers lose their land. She admitted she did not give the white farmer's plight her full effort. That's where the videotape of her speech, played on the conservative website biggovernment.com, ends.
Here's the rest of the story.
Shirley Sherrod then did what good people do. They search their hearts, question their own motives, change their minds, and do the right thing.
Shirley Sherrod did help keep the white farmer out of bankruptcy and they became friends for life, according to his 82-year old widow, who is quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Shirley Sherrod has been victimized by a whiplash of racism charges being hurled recently by Democrats against the Tea Party movement, against critics of the Attorney General over the Black Panther voter intimidation fiasco, even emanating from the White House itself as a means of deflecting attention from vocal criticism of the President's policies and his plunging poll numbers.
Shirley Sherrod is an example of how each of us should deal with the quandary of racial equality in this nation, by allowing our hearts and minds to be opened to the right and just answers.
The firing of Shirley Sherrod was unjust and unwarranted. She should be reinstated immediately.
She also deserves an apology from our President, the Secretary of Agriculture, and from every American who viewed that videotape and judged Shirley Sherrod without knowing the rest of the story.