Two nights ago I wrote a post arguing that Joe Biden should withdraw Tom Vilsack as his pick for Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. Today I'm eating my words.
When Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia civil rights leader who was egregiously wronged by Tom Vilsack during his tenure with the Obama administration, appears on Joy Reid's show to argue that Vilsack should be given the opportunity to do it right this time around, I listen and defer.
After giving background on Sherrod's place in Georgia's agricultural history, and the Breitbart-created scandal on which Vilsack based her firing those years ago, Joy Reid asked her how she felt about the prospect of Vilsack returning as head of the USDA.
REID: Has he ever personally apologized to you. One-on-one, and spokeN about what happened back then?
SHERROD: Yes, he did. In fact, about three days after that was in the news, he actually apologized. He called me and apologized, and he went on the air to to do so.
Reid asked her what Black farmers need from the Department of Agriculture, and what the department needs to do differently to help make up for the long-standing discrimination the USDA has shown Black farmers. Sherrod was specific and clear about the results she and others expected to see from Vilsack and Biden, given especially the fact that Black women were instrumental in delivering Biden's win.
Reid was understandably still slightly skeptical about the choice, as she was on Thursday night, and asked Sherrod again if perhaps the choice of Vilsack showed a lack of respect for the Black community who elected Biden, and wondered if Biden's team had reached out to her about it. Sherrod said she hadn't heard from the Biden team about it, but she said this about when she spoke to Vilsack years ago:
In other words, you have very generously been given another chance, Tom Vilsack and Joe Biden. Don't screw it up. Show results, and make things right.