Shirley Sherrod Rejects Return to USDA

Published August 24, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Agriculture Department official ousted during a racial firestorm last month has declined to accept an invitation to return to fulltime work at the agency.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Shirley Sherrod (shuh-RAHD) did agree to work with agency in a consulting capacity to help it improve its civil rights performance.

She said "I just don't think at this point with all that has happened" that she could take a fulltime position.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The USDA employee who was pushed out of her job during a racial firestorm last month met Tuesday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to discuss coming back to work at the agency.

Shirley Sherrod in recent weeks appeared reluctant to accept Vilsack's offer of a new job and has kept quiet about her plans. But they met at the department, and Sherrod reportedly has been offered a job in the Office of Advocacy and Outreach, which is aimed at improving the agency's civil rights performance.

The pair were expected to announce the outcome of their talks later in the morning.

Formerly the agency's director of rural development in Georgia, Sherrod was forced to resign after a conservative blogger posted snippets of a March speech in which she appeared to make racist remarks. Vilsack and others, including the NAACP, condemned the remarks before grasping the full context of the story, which was meant as a lesson in racial healing.

The White House and the NAACP have since apologized.

Written by &nbsp;MARY CLARE JALONICK <BR>Associated Press Writer

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