St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation announces Facing Race award winners

(l-r) Victoria McWane-Creek, KingDemetrius Pendleton, Valerie Shirley, Wokie Weah

The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation last week named the recipients of its 2021 Facing Race Awards. The awards honor individuals and organizations working to eliminate racism and its effects in Minnesota. Honorees are nominated by the community and receive grants to benefit Minnesota nonprofits of their choice. 

This year’s Facing Race honorees will be celebrated during a 30-minute presentation slated to air at 7 pm Sunday, October 24 on TPT Twin Cities PBS. The program will be hosted by Nadege Souvenir, foundation senior vice president of operations, and Learning and Pahoua Hoffman, senior vice president of community impact, along with a special appearance by Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., president, and chief executive officer of the Foundation. The Facing Race honorees will share stories of their community activism and anti-racism work in Minnesota. 

“Minnesota’s Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color are often called upon to lead solutions to problems they did not create,” said Jolly. “This year’s Facing Race honorees—Victoria McWane-Creek, Valerie Shirley, KingDemetrius Pendleton, and Wokie Weah—are all uniquely powerful proponents and catalysts for needed and positive change.

“Collectively, they model commitment, compassion, and creativity that we all can learn from as we strive to find solutions that unite us in combating racism and closing the harmful race-based disparities that unfortunately are still prevalent in Minnesota.”

“The work of facing race in America is one that many of us do each and every day, but not always with so much grit, wisdom, and grace,” said local author Kao Kalia Yang. “This year’s honorees set an example of how to take the hardest parts of our history and circumstances as Native peoples and People of Color and turn them into inspiring acts of courage, resistance, and love. I am thrilled to be part of a celebration dedicated to overcoming the longest struggle of the land: the search for equitability and a more just pursuit of society.”

The October 24 Facing Race broadcast will also feature original music from Ujamaa Music Group. The artists met through their involvement in Ujamaa Place, a St. Paul-based nonprofit providing a holistic transformation for young African American men experiencing inequity at the intersection of race and poverty. 

Following the broadcast, viewers are invited to join a post-show conversation with honorees during a Zoom event hosted by Souvenir. Participation is free of charge, but registration is required at:          

Go to Page 2 to read more about this year’s Facing Race Honorees