It's good that she changed her attitude, but the role of a government official making decisions about people's lives is not to experience personal transformations and revelations. It was an abuse of power. It's good that she learned from it, and it's interesting that she was opening herself up and telling such a personal story now. It exposed her to criticism, and her understandably sensitive boss fired her. It's important to acknowledge that Sherrod not only admittedly discriminated against the farmer (years ago), but she saw fit today to speak as if she were proud of the story with its narrative arc of personal growth.
ADDED: The incident with the white farmer occurred when Sherrod worked for the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund, and I don't know the specifics of that work and how it might affect the extent of her duty not to discriminate based on race. I don't mean to express an opinion about whether Sherrod should have been fired. There is a lot going on in this story, and I'm interested to see how it unfolds. I'm holding a position of neutrality here, and I will make my observations as they come to me.
One thing I'm seeing that I don't think many people are talking about is that Sherrod brought religion into her work and her narrative. Her speech began with a genuinely moving story of her childhood. It brought me to tears when she spoke of the murder of her father. Because of that murder, she made a "commitment to stay in the South and devote my life to working for change." The commitment seems to have been a promise to God, as she continues:
God is good. I can tell you that. When I made that commitment, I was making that commitment to black people -- and to black people only. But you know God will show you things and he'll put things in your path so that you realize that the struggle is really about poor people...This ties to the line in the anecdote from the video clip: "That's when it was revealed to me that y'all, it's about poor versus those who have, and not so much about white -- it is about white and black, but it's not -- you know, it opened my eyes..." Toward the end, she repeats this idea: "Like I told, God helped me to see that its not just about black people, it's about poor people. And I've come a long way. I knew that I couldn't live with hate, you know. As my mother has said to so many, if we had tried to live with hate in our hearts, we'd probably be dead now."
That's a beautiful idea. It is impressive that she resisted hate, but a public servant has a duty not to discriminate based on race, whatever her personal background is and whether God revealed something to her or not.