“Keep your eyes on the pies.” That’s been Minneapolis baker Rose McGee’s delicious spin on a Civil Rights Movement anthem since she began baking sweet potato pies in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in 2014.
Back then, McGee felt a mother’s grief for the young black teen’s tragic end at the hands of police, so much so that she wanted to do something to help.
“I feel it was the Lord who spoke to me: ‘Get up and get some pies down there,'” McGee said in a Minnesota Good Age magazine story, which included this photo from photographer Tracy Walsh.
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This amazing woman deserves a repost. Rose Mcgee! Her Sweet Potato Comfort Pies are opening the door to building a stronger community. This is a leader set on helping people who are grieving. So much respect for her. It was an honor to photograph you for @minnesotagoodage Rose! You are a healing source! @rose.mcgee.90 I hear you were on @nbcnightlynews tonight?! ð #rosemcgee #sweetpotatocomfortpie #sweetpotatocomfortpies #sweetpotatoepies #comfortpies #mnwomanleader #mnphotographer #portraitphotography
McGee, whose day job is as a program officer with the Minnesota Humanities Center, kept going from there. She formed Sweet Potato Comfort Pies to organize others in helping her make and take pies to those handling tragedies across the country.
The pies are topped with hearts and come with a poem of encouragement written by her daughter, which includes the words “Unity and peace is where comfort and joy start.”
Now, faced with the same emotion in her own city of Minneapolis after the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, she is taking pies to people in the community.
“I’m sorry for the pain that our country is feeling right now,” McGee told NBC Nightly News in a June 7 interview. “I wish there was a pie big enough to serve the whole human race.”
She also recently sent pies out to Minneapolis first responders and delivered them to other volunteers doing their part to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
And every year for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, she and others participate in a day of service, during which they bake the number of pies equivalent to the age King would have turned. This year, they baked 91 pies.
She has delivered about 3,000 pies since she started. But she sees it as just doing her part.
“We all have something that we can do, and we want to find what that is and tap into that in a positive way,” she told NBC Nightly News.