Common was scheduled to visit Kean University’s commencement ceremony as the guest speaker but due to a 15-year-old song that appearance has been cancelled.
According to reports, the song that has made the New Jersey college change their mind is Common’s 2000 track “A Song For Assata,” which is dedicated to Assata Shakur who was convicted of murdering a cop in 1977. She escaped prison after her convicton and fled to Cuba, where she remains as a fugitive.
“The students expressed interest in Common because he composed the Oscar-winning song ‘Glory’ with our prior commencement speaker John Legend,” said Susan Kayne, a Kean University spokesperson. “While we respect his talent, Kean is pursuing other speaker options.”
State Police union president Chris Burgos said that having the Chicago rapper as a speaker is a “slap in the face” because Shakur, born Joanne Chesimard. is portrayed as the victim when she was in fact the killer.
“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 to NorthJersey.com
The school is currently looking for another speaker. Common has yet to issue a statement,