Rose McGee is the founder of Sweet Potato Comfort Pie, an organization that uses the Black cultural food tradition of making sweet potato pies to facilitate story-circle dialogues and build multicultural alliances for racial justice work.
In 2014, after the murder of young Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri, Rose McGee felt compelled to do something healing. So she baked 30 sweet potato pies, loaded them into her car, and drove nine hours to deliver comfort with what she calls the sacred dessert of Black culture. During that journey, people told her how they just wanted to be heard and treated with respect. Upon returning home to Minnesota, she led members of her own community in expanding the concept of what she called, Sweet Potato Comfort Pie® – a catalyst for caring and building community and by keeping their eyes on the pies.
Since Ferguson, Rose McGee and volunteers have baked over 4,000 pies and delivered them to many in need of comfort including to the families and members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. after the shootings of 13 Black people by a white supremacist while worshipping of which nine died. Pies were taken in response to the killings of 11 parishioners at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, PA; the killings of Jamar Clark, Philando Castille; to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, South Dakota, and more.
After the brutal murder of Mr. George Floyd during COVID-19 combined with curfews, Rose McGee’s instinct to provide some form of healing was to lead people across the country in online pie-baking from their own homes and gift to first responders and those who needed care. This prompted NBC Nightly News, The Washington Post’s Lily Edition, Reader’s Digest, and Guidepost all to cite her as one of their top positive stories in 2020. In October 2021 she was featured by the Japanese Press as one of 50 inspirational stories in “the world.” In observance of the one-year anniversary of Mr. Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis Foundation sponsored her “Week of Healing” events that included artists, speakers, and the baking and gifting of sweet potato pies.
Today, Sweet Potato Comfort Pie’s cornerstone events are (a) The Sweet Potato Comfort Pie Bake-off and Jubilee established in 2021 in celebration of Juneteenth; (b) The Rose Service Scholars comprised of high school Black girls and elder mentors; (c) The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday of Service was established in 2015 after her return from Ferguson. During this event, volunteers bake the number of pies that Dr. King’s age would have been, and community members convene in story circles to have tough conversations about race and who to distribute the pies to across communities. In 2022, 93 pies were made accordingly.
Recently, Rose McGee was featured on the Rachael Ray Show as viewers watched Reddi Whip gift her organization $5,000 for using food like an outstanding social justice call to action. Rachel Ray then matched with another $5,000. She is featured in the national PBS
documentary, A Few Good Pie Places, has a TEDx Talk entitled The Power of Pie, is a member of Women Who Really Cook, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a recent Bush Fellowship recipient, and resides in Golden Valley, Minnesota where she was named “Citizen of The Year.” Her children’s book, Can’t Nobody Make A Sweet Potato Pie Like Our Mama is being released in November 2022 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.