The Common Experience; Grammy Artist Common lectures at UAB Bartow Arena
Posted on Mar 05, 2013 in News
The Grammy winning rapper/actor Common came to Bartow Arena as a part of UAB’s 50 Years Forward initiative on Monday, Feb. 25. He was introduced by a member of BMEN, The Blazer Male Excellence Network, and Mayor William Bell’s Chief of Staff and UAB graduate, Chuck Faush.
After a brief exercise in which the audience chanted “Fifty Years Forward” on video to send to the Mayor via Faush, Common walked on stage to an enthusiastic and welcoming crowd. He started his presentation by thanking the students who helped to organize the event, BMEN, BSAC, and other organizations.
He then proceeded to freestyle about UAB. In the rap he mentioned “Nasty rasty” a reference to Rast Hall and going to the diner for dragon claws. The audience laughed and applauded during the freestyle.
“I gotta talk to the people about something that means something… about greatness,” Common stated as he began his speech.
He walked the audience through important moments in his life and various experiences such as his time playing basketball under his uncle during middle school. There he learned that, in his words, “work is love made visible.”
He talked about the first time his teacher mentioned the story of Emmett Till, and for a while afterwards he took extreme caution around white people. At this time he worked at the Chicago Bull’s stadium and had to use the tunnels to transport equipment to and from the visitors’ locker room. While under the tunnels, he would run while making trips because he did not want to be in a compromising situation. Eventually he said that he got over it and learned that the times changed and it was unlikely that something could happen to him in the tunnels.
“You can’t dim your light for anyone. Your light was meant to shine for the world,” Common stated as he addressed the audience about some inspirational words he received from Kanye West.
Common continued saying that his “favorite Nelson Mandela quote is ‘You’re playing small does not serve the world.’” These quotes tied into his focus on greatness.
After 50 minutes into the lecture, he took questions from the audience that were chosen by a UAB student.
Raven Alexander, a Junior majoring in Biology, heard about the event from a Birmingham News section on the 50 Years Forward initiative. Her favorite line from Common was “not everyone is going to be convinced of your plans for life but don’t let it discourage you.”
Common left UAB with a long applause and said a few more words in his goodbye to UAB. Most students left the event with something valuable and interested in attending other programs similar to Common’s. Some students posted their favorite lines and moments on twitter using the trending #commonatuab. Their tweets show the ideas that Common passed to them of “inspiring people to greatness with your greatness.”