WASHINGTON - They spoke as two black people who've felt the sting and stigma of racial discrimination. But when Shirley Sherrod talked by phone with President Barack Obama, she said she knew his racial history didn't match hers - that a biracial man born and raised in Honolulu couldn't know what it's like to grow up in the Deep South in an era of cross burnings and segregation.
So Sherrod hoped to offer the president some insights, asking him during their seven-minute conversation to come to Georgia and tour some of the civil rights landmarks that shaped the experience of the Southern black underclass.
Obama didn't immediately accept. Instead, he invited her to e-mail him thoughts on civil rights issues, using a White House aide as an intermediary, Sherrod said in an interview Friday.
"His message was to let me know he cared about discrimination and wanted to help," Sherrod said. As for the offer to lead Obama on the tour, "he did not commit," she said.
The White House on Friday confirmed her version of the call, which took place a day earlier.
Sherrod was back home in Albany, Ga., recuperating from a weeklong ordeal in which she was wrongly painted as a racist, fired and then offered her job back. - MCT