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Minnesota women earn Anthem Awards for mission-driven work

The inaugural Anthem Awards are honoring two Black-owned businesses, including the podcast "Sheletta Makes Me Laugh," and publisher Planting People Growing Justice.

ST PAUL, Minn — The producers behind the Webby Awards noticed they were getting a lot of submissions centered around mission-driven work so they created the Anthem Awards just for that. 

From Sesame Street to Naomi Osaka, at least two Minnesota entities are among the first winners: website Sheletta Makes Me Laugh, founded by media personality Sheletta Brundidge, and publishing company Planting People Growing Justice, founded by civil rights attorney Dr. Artika Tyner.

"This is one of those, you know, fall straight out of Heaven into your lap type of I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter blessings," Brundidge said. "[Sheletta Makes Me Laugh] is a podcast that I founded two years ago. February 2020, in honor of Black History Month, I launched a network of shows all hosted by black subject experts all here in the Twin Cities so that we could give a voice to people who look like us who weren't getting an opportunity in traditional mainstream media."

Brundidge says all of the podcast hosts do positive things in the community.

"Whether we are handing out hams in north Minneapolis in the food desert for Easter or whether we're giving out Thanksgiving baskets or passing out carbon monoxide detectors or having a block party near George Floyd Square to lift the spirits of the people who live in that area or giving out gift baskets to exhausted nurses and doctors for Valentine's Day, we are always looking for ways to make our community better and do something good for someone else," she said. 

Meanwhile Planting People Growing Justice and accompanying project Leaders are Readers won "silver" in Education, Art, & Culture, Best Local Community Engagement within the Community Engagement Categories for non-profit work.

"We are dedicated to addressing the reading crisis," Tyner said. "If we want to close one of the entry points of that tangled web of mass incarceration, we have to start prioritizing reading and literacy."

Tyner says PPGJ helps kids prioritize reading by publishing diverse books. They've also donated over 7,000 books to kids over time. 

"That spark for young people and young people of color in particular to find joy in reading starts with representation; to see themselves on the cover of the book," she said.

Winners for the inaugural Anthem Awards will be celebrated at a virtual awards show on Monday.

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