“Go Make Pies!”
Guideposts|November 2020
“Go Make Pies!”
I knew a message from God when I heard one, but why this?
ROSE McGEE
I SAT IN MY LIVING ROOM IN MINNESOTA, watching news coverage of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a Black 18-year-old, by a white police officer. Video of police in riot gear, tear gas snaking through dark streets, people’s eyes filled with anger and fear. How horrible it was that violence had led to more violence! But what could I do?

Go make pies. The thought came to me in a flash.

Not a big booming voice but the seed of an idea. I got up and went into my kitchen. Make pies? Seriously, God?

I couldn’t imagine how pies would help a community torn apart by violence. Sure, my pies were good. The basic recipe came from my grandmother and great-grandmother, who’d raised me in Tennessee. Both were strong, capable women; my grandmother took me to civil rights marches in the mid1960s. They knew the importance of nourishing our community with good food and collective activism.

My job in our house was cleaning, so I didn’t learn to cook until I was grown. I was married and living in Denver when I tried my hand at making the desserts of my childhood.

“You want four medium sweet potatoes,” my grandmother told me over the phone. “Bring them to a boil in a large pot, then simmer until tender.”

I got pretty good at making pies. When I brought a sweet potato pie to my office for Black History Month, coworkers were amazed by the flavor. That’s Southern Black comfort food for you! Everyone wanted a piece.

“Rose, this is really good pie. Have you considered selling them?”

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November 2020