Los Angeles Times

Shirley Sherrod

The role of race in America once again took center stage when Shirley Sherrod, a Department of Agriculture official, was ousted from her job after a racial remark she made during a speech was taken out of context. Critics suggested the comment demonstrated prejudice; in reality, she had called for tolerance. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized to Sherrod and hugged her at a news conference in August. Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press