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Musician overcomes brain damage from lead poisoning, advocates for others with disabilities

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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    ST. PAUL, Minnesota (WCCO) — Dupree Edwards has quite the story to tell, but he’d prefer to rap it.

With a beat and a smile he raps for WCCO, “My testimony is all about me, Dupree will set you free.”

Edwards is a performer and always has been.

“A girl’s best friend is diamonds, my best friend is a microphone,” he rapped.

His smiles are big and his pain is too. Edwards got lead poisoning as a child, which damaged the frontal lobe of his brain.

“I think I have been called when I get on the yellow bus or you’re on the short yellow bus,” Edwards said.

But that was a long time ago. Edwards has developed computer skills, and a career at the U of M as a self-advocate. He goes on podcasts and makes speeches about what it’s like to live with a disability.

“They don’t think that we can work a job, they don’t think we can live on our own and here you are, and here I am,” Edwards said.

When he’s not performing, he’s advocating, working hard to try and get personal care assistants in Minnesota higher wages.

“Those people help us live our best lives, help us to be in community, take us places, they should be able to get paid better wages and get what they deserve,” Edwards said.

He’s also devoted to getting people with disabilities the dignity they deserve.

“Just because we look different, we act different, we are different, we should be able to do all the same things that you guys can do without disabilities,” Edwards said. “And that is what the whole fight is for, that we can be part of the community.”

Edwards says there are two big ways people without disabilities can support people with disabilities: Make your businesses accessible and consider hiring people with disabilities.

Minnesota has a program to help people pay for accommodations.

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