07/21/2010 11:26 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sherrod's Real Lesson: The Power of Personal Evolution

I know Shirley Sherrod, and I can tell you she is a strong, compassionate American dedicated to justice and progress.

The video we have now all seen shows nothing less. Shirley demonstrated a quality too often missing in our leaders: evolution. She used the incident with the white farmer as an opportunity to learn more about the scope of equity -- both over the long-term and in the moment. Then, she shared that lesson with the NAACP audience.

Shouldn't we as a nation value the evolution of leaders? As we did with Robert Byrd and his KKK past, shouldn't we celebrate the growth shown by Shirley, who has spent decades working on behalf of poor farmers -- white, black, Latino, and Native -- who had been treated unfairly.

As the November elections approach and we dive even deeper into the issues of race in America, we have no road map because there is no road. Even as the discussions get more difficult, we must also strive to reach the uncommon common ground on the delicate and vital issue of race.

This commentary was also posted on EquityBlog, the community blog of PolicyLink. Angela is also the co-author of the recently released Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America's Future