For Immediate Release: June 5, 2015
Contact: Tracy Lerman, Communications Manager
650-867-0389 | [email protected]

Civil Rights Activist Shirley Sherrod to Deliver Keynote Address at annual NESAWG Conference

Irvington, NY – Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia director of Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will deliver the keynote address at the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) Conference on November 12-14, 2015 in Saratoga Springs, NY.

In 2010, Sherrod was forced to resign from her USDA position after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted video excerpts of a speech she made and edited the context to make her appear racist. When the controversy erupted, the NAACP condemned her remarks and U.S. government officials called on her to resign. Upon review of the unedited video in context, President Barack Obama, the NAACP, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack apologized to her and offered her a new position, which she turned down.

Ms. Sherrod, a longtime civil rights activist and advocate for food justice and independent family farmers, will speak as part of the annual It Takes A Region conference hosted by NESAWG. Ms. Sherrod’s remarks will address the conference theme, “Putting Move in the Movement,” as organizers and advocates seek to accelerate food systems change and learn from the civil rights, labor and women’s rights movements that transformed our world.

“Leaders past and present have much to share with us on how to better organize our work, our message, and our media,” said NESAWG Director Ruth Katz. “We look forward to hosting this event for a diverse mix of attendees; hundreds of experts -- from farmers to market managers, researchers and policymakers -- learn from each other and strategize to build the food movement and realize the change we want to see.”

The conference offers in-depth working sessions and provocative dialogs that tackle challenging questions about how to build and strengthen resilient, sustainable, and just regional food systems. For updates about the 2015 conference, including workshop presenters, plenary discussions, and more, visit our conference webpage.


Civil rights, labor, women’s rights—the movements that transformed our world can give us insight on ways to accelerate food systems change.  What can we learn from leaders past and present?  How can we better organize our work, our networks, our message, our media?  Learn and strategize with hundreds of attendees—from farmers to researchers to policymakers—as we work to build a movement and realize the change we want to see.

NESAWG is a 12-state network of over 500 participating organizations in the Northeast.  Together, we unite farm and food system practitioners and allies to build a sustainable, just and economically vibrant region.

Download the news release.