With inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King’s message of unity and equality, the Austin, Texas-based nonprofit, Peace Through Pie (PTP), aims to rekindle the tradition of Pie Socials as a vehicle to celebrate the MLK holiday message.
“By sharing pie along with conversations about peace and its role in the American Dream,” says local artist and PTP founder, Luanne Stovall, “we’re connecting the values of tradition, community and diversity with this important holiday,” A “Dream Team” of passionate community, church members, and Pastor Steve Manning launched the inaugural public Pie Social in 2009 at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church of Clarksville, the first free black church established in Texas after emancipation. The event was a rousing success, serving as an inspirational cornerstone for the grassroots movement.
In 2010, Stovall and regional culinary journalist Toni Tipton Martin teamed up to host other Peace Through Pie Socials in Austin and Houston, Texas, expanding the call to action across the country.
“Every holiday has a food tradition,” Stovall says. “Washington’s cherry pie, Valentine’s chocolates, Easter ham, Forth of July Hot Dogs, Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas cookies, and Hanukkah latkes. Pie symbolizes inclusiveness with its round shape and diverse ingredients. Sweet or savory, empanadas, samosas, or pizza pie, the variations reflect the culturally diverse traditions that now have a piece of the American Dream.”
A new initiative is the Pie-O-Neers for Peace Program, designed to help schools and youth programs promote diversity, inclusiveness and cultivate peace on campus. The PTP organization also teamed up with the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate initiative in several schools, which have tailored the program to fit their needs – from classroom celebrations to campus wide events.
Pie Socials have been planned in several schools in Austin and beyond. Ohio’s Stephen Kerney, organizer of Lorain Community Middle School’s 2nd Annual PTP Social asks his students to apply the lessons of Dr. King in their lives and community. “Dr. King made history many years ago, but what does that mean for us now? He had a dream…and so do we.”
Austin area students from Mathews Elementary, Travis High School, and Pflugerville ISD are all taking part in celebrating the MLK Holiday by joining the Pie-O-neer Movement. These students are leading the way, showing that every piece of the Peace Pie counts.
Organizers Rob McDonald and Mike Erickson of Travis and Connally High Schools, believe that the City of Austin Proclamation and State of Texas Resolution both enhance the historic significance of the effort being spearheaded by the Culinary Arts Programs at both schools. “This event is a great way for our students to learn much more than how to make a pie crust, by understanding that the principles and skills they learn in culinary arts are not just about food, but about being part of a community.”
MLK Peace Through Pie Socials are being hosted at several other locations throughout the Austin area, including Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in historic Clarksville; St. James Episcopal Church; and as part of America’s Sunday Supper Celebration at Trinity United Methodist Church. Other areas around the nation participating in movement include organizations in Chicago, Illinois; Salt Lake City, Utah; Greenville, Illinois; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Houston, Texas.
Peace Through Pie invites everyone to “step up to the plate” and come together as part of Dr. King’s Beloved Community, sharing “Peace Pie,” conversations, and dreams.
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