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"GA Coalition of Black Women supports Shirley Sherrod & calls for conversation on gender equity"
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Rita Jackson Samuels, founder of the Georgia Coalition of Black Women (GCBW) issued the following statement about the forced resignation of Ms. Shirley Sherrod who served as Georgia State Director for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
“The Georgia Coalition for Black Women would like to publicly express our full support for Ms. Shirley Sherrod and commend her for carrying herself with grace and class in response to malicious mudslingers and those who disseminated information taken out-of-context. We are proud to announce that the Georgia Coalition of Black Women’s board has voted unanimously to present Ms. Sherrod with the Woman of Distinction award for outstanding community service during our National Women’s Equality Day Celebration at The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.
“Ms. Sherrod is an upstanding Georgia grown professional that has dedicated her career to public service. She is well-known throughout the state for her commitment to helping to improve economic opportunities for all farmers. She did not deserve the unmerited disrespect and mistreatment. Several of our board members, including former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, are familiar with Ms. Sherrod's work over the years and can vouch for her commitment to civil rights for all people and her unique role in saving family farms.
“The Obama administration, the national media, and especially the national office of the NAACP - who should give any event speaker the courtesy of a call– acted recklessly and, in addition to a public apology for rushing to judgment without attempting to get all of the facts, the NAACP must work to ensure gender equity. We commend President Obama for reaching out to Ms. Sherrod, she deserved a personal call. In fact, a 'Shirley Sherrod Champagne Summit' on the White House lawn is in order.
“As the nation focuses on race, the situation appears to be a glaring example of gender bias with a long list of men willing to ignore due process for this extraordinary female professional. We don’t believe a man would have been forced to pull to the side of the road to resign without any investigation of the facts. Even though we are a powerful voting block, it is still a constant struggle in this country for African American women to get the respect they deserve.”
ABOUT THE GCBW: Founded in Macon in 1980, GCBW has been in the vanguard on women’s issues for more than 30 years and was a lead advocate for the establishment of the Georgia Commission on Women, as well as numerous observances of Women’s History Month around the state. GCBW was among the first to apply a single gender approach in bridging the digital divide hosting the Just For Girls Computer Camp. The nonprofit, community-based outreach organization focuses on women's advocacy and works to develop and strengthen relationships in the multi-cultural community. A major focus of the Coalition is to impact public policy and to facilitate the participation of women in government, with emphasis on the electoral process.