Across the country, communities are mourning. George Floyd’s murder at the hands of four since-charged police officers has drawn needed attention towards systemic racism, the role of the police, and the need to support black-owned businesses, among other important issues. But for both activists and even average citizens in places like Minneapolis, pushing for change while processing grief and a host of other draining feelings can take a heavy psychic toll.
That’s where a little help from Rose McGee comes in, one dedicated and determined black baker whose sweet potato pies truly put the “comfort” in comfort food. This week, the 69 year old has lovingly crafted her famous Sweet Potato Comfort Pies to give away to members of the Minneapolis community. Distributed with help from a team of volunteers at the makeshift memorial for Floyd, each pie comes packaged with a poem that furthers the spirit of love and support that each baked good represents.
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McGee’s calling dates back to the brutal summer of 2014 and the police shooting of Michael Brown, when her grief compelled her to drive more than 500 miles to Ferguson, Missouri, with 30 sweet potato pies in tow to feed and soothe anyone who needed it. “I knew that I needed to do something,” she told HuffPo. “Right then, the Lord spoke to me: Get up and bake some pies and take them down there.’”
Overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion her baking inspired, McGee kept going. She’s traveled the country offering her pies in the wake of other senseless acts of violence targeting the black community. Closer to home, she started an annual event in Golden Valley, Minnesota, where she and volunteers team up to bake one pie for every year since Martin Luther King Jr’s birth each January. She’s even spread her wisdom with a Facebook Live event during the pandemic that helped fans learn the secret to making the perfect sweet potato pie.
According to those who’ve helped McGee distribue her Sweet Potato Comfort Pies over the past week, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “I have never handed a pie to someone without getting a smile back,” volunteer Andrena Seawood said. “I think we blessed some people there, so they can go forth and be a blessing.”
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At a time when so many in Minneapolis have generously donated food, McGee’s use of her craft to help heal stands above the rest. If you want to volunteer, donate, or just find out more about her efforts, you can do so here.
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