While communities in Minneapolis and across the nation have been rocked by George Floyd’s death and the protests that have followed calling for police reform, one woman is trying to help heal through food.
“Remember to eat, pray and love as you partake in making a difference, for there is much to be proud of,” reads a note included with the Sweet Potato Comfort Pies that Minneapolis baker Rose McGee is handing out to protesters and others for free.
“This is the sacred dessert of Black people, and it has power,” McGee said on her organization's website, referencing her signature sweet potato pie.
McGee is joined by volunteers to make and hand out the special pies, each accompanied by a poem written by her daughter Roslyn Harmon, who is the senior pastor and founder of Circle of Healing Ministry.
“This is a recipe of love that has been in our family for decades,” Harmon told HuffPost. “My great-great-grandmother baked these pies, and now my mother bakes them.” The recipe is also shared on the organization's website, Sweet Potato Comfort Pie.
Harmon continued, sharing the historical significance of the pie, stating, “sweet potato pies have been a staple of our culture since slavery.”
“The pies we distribute today honor generations of Black women who worked hard to provide soulful meals to their families, using minimal ingredients and with limited financial means,” Harmon concluded.
McGee said her decision to start baking the healing pies was after she received a message from God when the news broke of Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.
“I sat in my living room, watching the news, and I saw the hopelessness on the faces of the people there,” she said to HuffPost. “I knew that I needed to do something. Right then, the Lord spoke to me: ‘Get up and bake some pies and take them down there.’”
McGee drove 500 miles to hand out her pies to mourners and protesters. Now, six years later, McGee has continued making her pies and taking them to people gathering together in the wake of senseless violence — like the Tree of Life synagogue mass shooting, the Charleston church massacre and the Standing Rock pipeline protests, among others.
Her pies are not only for mourning, but for reflection and engagement. According to the mission statement shared on the organization's website, "Sweet Potato Comfort Pies nourish story-sharing; and they offer comfort, gratitude and solidarity during times of struggle." They are also "prepared with love and a commitment to greater understanding, unity and justice."
In addition, volunteers and McGee bake a pie for each year since Martin Luther King Jr., was born in 1929, and deliver them on MLK Jr., Day each year to a group decided on by the organization. Those who have received pies in the past have been teachers, first responders, youth groups, and other important community organizations. Over dessert, these organizations often share open discussions on the subject of race, HuffPost reports.
“Rose serves as a beacon of hope for those in pain and her pies are an expression of love. They bring power to those who accept them. The entire experience connects and strengthens our community,” volunteer Hannah Carney said to the outlet.