First ‘Batter That Matters’ award’ goes to Katie Sample

Rosa McGee (l-r) Helen Bassett, Katie Sample, Kate Towle, Rose McGee

On Sunday, January 19, during the Sixth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday weekend of service held in Golden Valley, community icon Katie Sample, founder of AAAL (African American Academy for Accelerated Learning), was honored with the first “Batter That Matters” award. The recognition was presented by the grassroots movement “Sweet Potato Comfort Pie: a catalyst for caring and building community.”

As part of the weekend celebration of MLK Day, over 40 volunteers ventured out into the balmy cold to bake 91 sweet potato pies. Ninety-one is significant because it is the age MLK would have been were he alive.

“Katie Sample is a revered elder in our community whose enrichment programs and bi-annual conferences to spotlight successes in educating African American children raised the local bar on educational practices for all children,” said Kate Towle, a member of the Sweet Potato Comfort Pie planning team who has worked closely with Sample for decades.

“In 1968, right after Dr. King, Jr. died, Katie began her work as one of the first African American social workers in the Minneapolis Public Schools. In the late 1980s, she completed visionary research on racial inequities in school discipline policies,” said Towle.

When accepting the award, 86-year-old Sample was surrounded by her family, including her niece Helen Bassett, a Golden Valley resident and member of the Robbinsdale School Board.

“Not only has Katie’s legacy of lifelong learning and sharing the strengths of her culture sparked numerous projects to support youth, parents and community engagement,” said Bassett, “she has always been  the pillar of this family. No matter what the circumstances, she has been right there, and we love her beyond measure,”

“Katie grounded African American children in their history, culture and values through summer programs, parent education, education conferences and international travel. Presenting our organization’s first award to her is totally befitting, because she exemplifies how to take your own talent, no matter how big or small, and use it to serve others in ways they can grow and become better. That is a key ingredient found in the batter that matters,” said Rose McGee, founder of Sweet Potato Comfort Pie.