Honorees include Victoria McWane-Creek, Valerie Shirley, KingDemetrius Pendleton and Wokie Weah.
A program celebrating the honorees will be broadcast on the Minnesota channel of TPT Twin Cities PBS featuring special contributor and author Kao Kalia Yang.
Oct. 4, 2021 – The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation today announced the recipients of its Facing Race Awards.
The awards, now in their fifteenth year, 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 thirty-minute presentation to air at 7 p.m., Sunday, October 24, on the Minnesota Channel of TPT Twin Cities PBS. The program will be hosted by the Foundation’s Senior Vice President of Operations & Learning Nadege Souvenir and Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Pahoua Hoffman, 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 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. Register for the free event.
Established in 2007, the Foundation’s Facing Race Awards honor Minnesota’s anti-racism activists who work tirelessly to change the narrative on race and create communities where everyone feels safe, valued and respected.
About the 2021 Facing Race Honorees
- Victoria McWane-Creek is a Fergus Falls resident who is a performance improvement specialist, guiding individuals, teams, organizations and communities toward their ideal performance by designing and executing strategic interventions that close knowledge, performance and skills gaps. McWane-Creek is also a facilitator with the Minnesota Campus Compact Communities of Practice, serves as a member of the Minnesota Council of Churches Respectful Conversations Project, the Human Rights Commission of Fergus Falls, Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership Board and Youth Advisory Council of Workforce Area Board. She has been recognized as a changemaker working to create a more equitable community in Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County.
- KingDemetrius Pendleton is an independent photojournalist who uses imagery to tell stories of injustice and unrest. His photographs of protests, memorials and community events related to incidents of racial injustice have been featured in newspapers and social media. Through his company, ListenMedia, he strives to be a “voice of the voiceless.” Pendleton became an activist to honor his daughter, who was killed by a drunk driver in November 2013.
- Valerie Shirley is a Saint Paul resident who has devoted her life to empowering those who are underrepresented or invisible. She is the founder of the Minnesota Deaf Muslim Community, a nonprofit working to ensure access to effective communication for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. She began her career in deaf education as a way to communicate with her deaf son. Since then, she has taught others to sign and has made it her mission to ensure mosques in Minnesota include American Sign Language interpreters at prayer services.
- Wokie Weah is the first and current President of Youthprise, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing equity for Minnesota’s Indigenous, low-income and racially diverse youth. Under her leadership, Youthprise has granted more than $30 million to youth initiatives and provided training and technical assistance to more than 100 youth-serving organizations. Youthprise has also successfully lobbied for more than $3.1 million in direct appropriations to support key youth-development initiatives.
Editor’s note: Find a Facing Race program description and honoree photos in the Foundation’s pressroom.
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