Charles Sherrod, husband of Shirley, has sort of explained the history behind the lawsuit that led to a $13 million court settlement that included a combined $300,000 in pain and suffering awards to Mr. and Mrs. Sherrod.
In January 2010, Mr. Sherrod gave a 26-minute speech (“Rev. Charles Sherrod Delivers Keynote Address at Race and Law Conference”) at “’50 Years After the Sit-Ins,’ a conference at the University of Virginia School of Law”).
In the process, Sherrod also revealed much of his attitudinal outlook. I’ll let him indict himself without comment (beyond bolding). I’ll also note that I can’t explain some obvious factual discrepancies contained therein, and therefore won’t try to:
Transcript (as noted, an edited version of a longer speech):
Ten years ago, we held in group ownership a non-profit organization called New Communities Incorporated. We farmed it for 17 years. We held onto it for that number of years.
Then we had five straight years of drought.
Then we had a three-year fight with USDA, just to get the right to get loans for drought, when all around us plantations, all kinds of plantations, that we proved were getting loans. And they were saying that since we’re a corporation, we’re not an individual, we’re not a farm.
It took us three years to win that fight, then four more years of late payments from USDA that caused us to lose this land.
We appealed to hundreds of black and white groups to save the land. $250 a(n) acre to save 6,000 acres. Lookin’ for 6,000 people to give $250 to save 6,000 acres of land, the largest piece of land owned by blacks in the country anywhere in a single tract. Muslims owned more land than we did but not in a single tract.
We lost that 6,000 acres in 1985. We sued the federal government because we were faithful, and had good lawyers. We won a large sum of money so that New Communities could live again and will live again. A large sum of money, large … (makes three four-fingered hand signals with his right hand) … sum of money — so that New Communities, a project to stabilize Southern farmers, to create a food delivery system from the South to our people in the North, and participate creatively in the international trade, were our three objectives.
So that possibility is yet alive. Young people, you will be making more money than we ever dreamed of. Please find a way, find a way that we can trust each other. So that our monies can work for our total liberation. We have ideas, inventions, athletic talents. But our labor and our monies and our contracts usually end up in white folks’ hands and pockets. When will we trust our own?
Finally we must stop the white man and his Uncle Toms from stealing our elections. We must not be afraid to vote black. We must not be afraid to turn a black out who votes against our interests.
For full context, I listened but didn’t fully watch the 26-minute original (taking notes while the video ran). There are couple of other choice nuggets that I’ll refrain from noting, but nothing that affects the context of what I’ve transcribed.
I guess none of what Mr. Sherrod said at the time was controversial enough to be considered newsworthy at the time. I wonder if that would have been the case if, say, a moderately well-known white man had made a speech suggesting that “we have to stop blacks from stealing elections”?