The week-long debate over racism in politics took a strange turn on Tuesday.
An African-American woman from Georgia lost her federal job Monday over what at first appeared to be racist comments in a video clip. But on Tuesday she said the comments were misconstrued — she was really talking about racial reconciliation years ago when she worked for a non-profit agency.
As a result, the NAACP, which had first denounced the woman, reversed itself and called on the Obama administration to rehire her.
NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement that his group was "snookered" into believing that Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod expressed racist sentiments at a local NAACP meeting earlier this year.
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But the USDA was not backing down.
The whirlwind developments were the latest in a turbulent week that began last Tuesday with the passage of a resolution at the Kansas City convention for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The resolution called on all people — including tea party leaders — to condemn racism within the tea party movement.
Tea party leaders quickly responded that the movement was not racist, although some acknowledged racist elements might be found on the fringe.
Four days later, the National Tea Party Federation, a coalition of tea parties across the country, expelled the Tea Party Express and its spokesman, Mark Williams, after Williams wrote a racially charged blog post.
The debate shifted gears on Monday, when the video clip surfaced of Sherrod.
Conservative website publisher Andrew Breitbart originally posted the two-and-a-half-minute video clip at biggovernment.com, calling it "evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee and NAACP award recipient."
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