The tragic murder of Shirley Sherrod’s father when she was 17-years-old had a profound impact on her life. No charges were returned against the shooter by an all-white grand jury. This was a turning point in her life and led her to feel that she should stay in the South to bring about change.
During the 1960s, Sherrod and her husband helped to form several land trusts in Southwest Georgia, in particular, New Communities Inc., a collective farm co-founded by Sherrod in 1969. Located in Lee County, Georgia, the 6,000-acre project was the largest tract of black-owned land in the United States. It was a laboratory and model for Community Land Trusts designed to provide an equitable and sustainable model of affordable housing and community development while providing African American farmers the opportunity to farm land securely and affordably.
In July 2010, Sherrod was forced to resign from her position after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted video excerpts on his website of a Sherrod address at an NAACP event. According to Breitbart, her comments showed how a federally appointed executive racially discriminated against a white farmer. The video set off a storm of controversy and criticism of Sherrod. Subsequent events showed that the posted video was taken out of context and part of broader comments that conveyed a completely different meaning. The NAACP apologized for critical comments and her boss at the USDA also apologized while offering her another job, which she later declined.