Campus News

Social justice advocate to speak at BFSO luncheon

Shirley Sherrod v.
Shirley Sherrod

Athens, Ga. – Shirley Sherrod, an advocate for social justice and former Georgia state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will deliver the keynote address at the University of Georgia’s Black Faculty and Staff Organization’s 14th annual Founders’ Award Scholarship Luncheon.

“Mrs. Shirley Sherrod is a lifelong champion for civil rights and social equality,” said Deborah Elder, a clinical associate professor in the College of Pharmacy and president of the BFSO. “We are excited to hear such a distinguished and inspirational figure share her story.”

The luncheon will be held Sept. 9 from noon-1:30 p.m. in the Tate Student Center’s Grand Hall.

Tickets purchased before Aug. 8 are $40; after that date they will be $45. Tables are available for sponsors starting at $320. Proceeds from the luncheon will be used for BFSO activities and the scholarship program, which awards scholarships to outstanding undergraduate, graduate and professional students at UGA.

Sherrod has dedicated her life to promoting social equality for family farmers. She is executive director for the Southwest Georgia Project, a nonprofit that fights social inequality and negative agriculture-related experiences for minorities through education and engagement of local communities. Sherrod also is vice president of development for New Communities at Cypress Pond.

A graduate of Albany State University, Sherrod also holds a master’s degree in community development from Antioch University.

In 2009, she became the first black person to hold the position of Georgia state director of rural development for the USDA. She made national headlines in 2010 when edited remarks she made at an NAACP event forced her resignation. Upon review of the unedited video in full context, the NAACP, White House officials and Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, apologized for the firing. Sherrod was offered a new USDA position, which she ultimately declined.

“Members of the UGA, Athens and surrounding communities will have a unique opportunity to learn about Mrs. Sherrod’s actions in response to the adversity she faced,” Elder said.

For over 30 years, BFSO has played a vital role in conceptualizing, advocating and helping to implement programs and services focused on equity and diversity at the University of Georgia. BFSO’s advocacy and activism played a pivotal role in the creation and growth of the Department of Minority Services and Programs, the Institute for African American Studies, the African American Cultural Center, the Office of Institutional Diversity, the Presidential Minority Advisory Committee and several university-wide initiatives focused on the recruitment and retention of African-American faculty, staff and students at UGA.

For questions about ticket purchases or sponsorship opportunities, contact Elder at 706-202-4748 or