Common comes to USF for first ULS speech

With a career spanning music, film, television and literature, hip-hop entertainer Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known by his stage name Common, visits campus tonight as the first speaker of this season’s University Lecture Series (ULS).

Common’s speech begins at 8 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. to students with a USF ID, and at 7:45 p.m. for the general public, faculty and staff.

Spencer Southard, director of marketing for ULS, said in an email to The Oracle that Common’s message should speak to all demographics on campus.

“They will learn the importance of stepping up in the community and making a difference by being active,” Southard said.

Known for his music and his active involvement in groups including PETA, Common has also recently released the book “One Day It’ll All Make Sense,” a memoir of his personal experiences. Kristie Gerber, director for the Center of Student Involvement, said a book signing follows the lecture.

Common, who has been in hip-hop for nearly 12 years, has starred in films such as “Just Wright” and “Wanted,” as well as the upcoming AMC Western series “Hell on Wheels.”

The White House also invited Common to a May poetry celebration that stirred controversy, according to the Washington Times, “because of his ‘Song for Assata,’ in which the rapper celebrated Assata Shakur, a former Black Panther who was convicted of killing a New Jersey trooper in the 1970s, with lyrics that included, ‘May God bless your soul.'”

According to the Times, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at the time, “I think that one of the things that the president appreciates is the work that Mr. Lynn has done with children, especially in Chicago, trying to get them to focus on poetry as opposed to some of the negative influences of life on the street.”

While the lecture is the main focus of the event, Common’s appearance also includes a Q&A session, the book signing and a meet and greet with the entertainer. Southard said ULS is paying $24,000 for Common’s appearance.

“The $24,000 includes professional and air and ground transportation, food, lodging and speaking fees,” he said.

Southard said the executive board for ULS chose Common as the speaker after months of deliberation, and they have added three new additions to the 2011-12 ULS lineup.

Invisible Children will make another appearance Oct. 5. Dewey Bozella, a man who was falsely accused and punished for murder, speaks Oct. 24 and Matisyahu, a Jewish reggae musician, concludes the series March 1. Also, the cast of The Buried Life, which was previously scheduled for April 7, has been moved to Feb. 21.

Though ULS will be offering additional speakers, its $215,180 budget has not changed.

Southard said he thinks Common’s lecture will “establish a positive tone” for the rest of the season.

They had their chances, but I felt like we had such a good team effort from everyone.”

After the tough draw with Notre Dame, the Bulls were hoping for their first Big East victory as they hosted DePaul (2-7-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday. However, weather again played a role as the game was delayed six minutes before halftime, with USF leading 2-0.

The match was eventually cancelled due to sustained delays and will be restarted today at 11 a.m., with USF’s two-goal lead erased.

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