Common Canceled As Commencement Speaker Because Of 2000 Song
New Jersey’s Kean University has canceled Common as commencement speaker because of a 2000 song about Joanne Chesimard.
Common won the Academy Award for composing the song “Glory” for the 2014 film “Selma.”
“The students expressed interest in Common because he composed the Oscar-winning song `Glory’ with our prior commencement speaker John Legend,” Kayne said. “While we respect his talent, Kean is pursuing other speaker options.”
New Jersey State Police were troubled by the choice because of lyrics in Common’s 2000 recording “A Song for Assata.” The song is about Joanne Chesimard, who goes by the name Assata Shakur, and was convicted in 1977 of killing Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. She escaped from prison and has been living in Cuba as a fugitive.
Chris Burgos, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, called the choice a “slap in the face.”
“What is troubling here is that a state university that is subsidized with state taxpayer funds, is once again being questioned on their decision-making at the highest levels,” Burgos said in an emailed statement.