Hip-hop artist Common to give lecture honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Hip-hop artist and actor Common will give the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture at 7 p.m. Monday in Graham Chapel. The Martin Luther King Jr. lecture is an annual event sponsored by the Association of Black Students.
“The MLK symposium is an ABS tradition, and by extension it’s a Wash. U. tradition,” said Tiffany Johnson, the president of the Association of Black Students. “We try to bring someone who will get the campus excited…we want their work and their lives to be consistent with Martin Luther King’s work.”
Common, formerly known as Common Sense, has won two Grammies and been nominated for multiple others, but it’s his mix of music, philanthropy and community work that Common’s talk will highlight. As a member of the “conscious” hip-hop movement, Common focuses much of his music on social issues, often working with artists such as Lauryn Hill and Kanye West.
“He’s a staple in terms of hip-hop, and he’s transcended that genre and become prevalent throughout Hollywood,” Johnson said. “He does a lot of work with literacy and empowering youth…He’s very much an example to the community, whether they are black or white, about activism in the community.”
Common has also written numerous books geared to a young audience, including “The Mirror and Me” and “I Like You but I Love Me” aimed at raising self-esteem. Common’s acting career includes “Date Night,” “Just Wright,” “American Gangster,” “Street Kings” and “Terminator Salvation.”
The visit was moved up from its originally scheduled date on April 6.