"The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed," writes Sen. Jim Webb (D) of Virginia in the Wall Street Journal. "But the extrapolation of this logic to all 'people of color' – especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S. – moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup."
Few departments have struggled as much with how to resolve the legacy of institutional racism as the Department of Agriculture. That includes the man who fired Sherrod, Secretary Tom Vilsack, "who signaled a desire to atone for the USDA's checkered past, including pushing for funding of a historic $1.15 billion settlement that would help thousands of African American farmers but now faces bitter resistance from Senate Republicans," writes Chris Kromm on the Facing South blog.
"This is a good woman. She has been put through hell," Mr. Vilsack told CNN, acknowledging a shift in priorities. "I want to renew the commitment of this department to a new era in civil rights. I want to close the chapter on a very difficult period in civil rights."