Common comes to AU for KPU’s last event of the year
The rapper shared his insights on his career and role in activism
For the Kennedy Political Union’s last event of the year, rapper and actor Lonnie “Common” Lynn, spoke at an event in Bender Arena on April 5.
The College of Arts and Sciences, along with other organizations including the Alumni Association, Office of Campus Life, WVAU and the Black Student Alliance co-sponsored the event. Common addressed students and then sat down for a question and answer session with Sean Glover, a manager in the music industry, and AU audio technology professor Michael Harvey.
He was introduced by Aaliyah Lambert, deputy director of logistics management for KPU. Lambert said Common “breaks new ground” in the work he does in the music industry and for social justice causes.
The rapper said his career all started with hip-hop when he and his cousin would come up with raps as kids, which is how he started his night in Bender Arena. Common entertained the crowd with rhymes related to AU, referencing Mass Ave., the Dav and Anderson Hall.
“I’ve got to start this over with American University with a freestyle real quick,” Common said. “Yo, yo you know the path, they said maybe I should get some coffee at the Dav.”
After he shared his talents, Common invoked the Muhammed Ali theory into his speech. He said the premise of this concept is that Ali was known all around the world for being the best, not because of his skills in the ring, but because at the height of his career he stood up for what he felt was right by not fighting in the Vietnam War. Ali also welcomed all of those he met despite their appearance or background. Common then shared with the crowd what they needed to do in order to achieve their own greatness.
“I didn’t know how to get to this greatness. So I thought about it,” Common said. “I came up with the anecdote: find your path, believe in your path, live your path.”
Common then told the story of when he knew hip-hop was his passion. While in college studying business, he knew it wasn’t for him and had to tell his mother that he wanted to pursue music. He was so steadfast in his choice that any backlash he received was not going to stop him.
He said that his belief in himself is what allowed him to achieve his greatness. A man of many talents, acting, film production, writing and activism, Common is working toward becoming the greatest, he said.
“Believing in your path is believing in yourself,” Common said. “Belief is contagious.”
Common addressed his role in social justice as well.
“Where we are in society, when we look at this world right now and see what’s going on and we aren’t happy with what’s been going on politically, we know that this is a challenge,” Common said. “Challenges are the things that bring out the best in us. When you are on your path to greatness, that’s what determines who are the greats.”
Common also created the Common Ground Foundation which, according to its site, aims “to empower high school students to become future leaders through programs focused on character development, healthy living, financial literacy and creative expression.”
After the event, audience members such as Miracle Smith, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, expressed their enthusiasm.
“I really enjoyed tonight,” Smith said. “I didn’t know he was so passionate.”
Valentina Muraleedharan, a graduate student in the School of International Service, also commented on what Common had to say to the crowd.
“I think it’s really important that someone with influence uses it to bring about change,” she said. “I think his speech was well thought out and intentional. His rhetorical stance was not just about what is wrong but what we can do to change it.”