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Nobel Peace Prize Forum To Feature MN’s Dessa

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Augsburg’s annual Nobel Peace Prize forum will feature some amazing speakers this weekend, including former South Africa president F.W. de Klerk, human rights advocate Naomi TuTu and a Minnesota rapper.

Dessa has a way with words, whether at a show, or talking about her presentation.

“You know anytime you see ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ in your inbox, your first impulse is spam,” she said.

But she was invited for good reason. She’s an innovator in hip hop. A strong woman, who stands for what she believes. Who refuses to use – or collaborate with anybody who uses – three ugly words, slurs against women, gays or blacks.

“You can be involved in hip hop and be a feminist or humanist,” she said. “You can be involved in hip hop and be a passionate advocate for gay rights.”

She has a degree in philosophy from the University, and clearly colors her outlook. An author and poet, she was drawn to rap because it’s the style of music with the most words per minute.

She’s been touring out east with the Doomtree Collective, preparing her talk about hip hop and ethics.

“Just because you don’t gain any special moral responsibility by being an artist,” she said, “doesn’t mean you’re excused from your normal moral responsibility by virtue of being a human, and I think that will be a big cornerstone of what my presentation will rest on.”

But Dessa says hip hop also has a history of community and social good, particularly local artists like Brother Ali, and with that comes true responsibility.

“Hip hop is a powerful agent for change, and the kind of change we get depends on the person that’s wielding that tool,” she said.

Dessa’s presentation is Friday night at 8 p.m. at Augsburg’s Kennedy Center.

Major speakers continue through Sunday, with F.W. de Klerk and Naomi TuTu.

For more information about the event, click here.

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