Award-winning recording artist and actor Common will be the speaker for Winston-Salem State University’s 2015 commencement on Friday, May 15, at 9:45 a.m. in Bowman Gray Stadium.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Common as our commencement speaker considering his recent accomplishments, both as a musician and an actor,” said Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson. “While he has been performing for more than 20 years, he certainly has hit another level in his career. More importantly, he continues to strive to inspire young people to take advantage of all the opportunities they are presented and to work diligently to fulfill their individual potential. I know he will have a message that will have a positive impact on our graduates and I also know how excited they are to have him be a part of their commencement ceremony.”
A two-time Grammy Award winner, Common won the 2015 Academy Award and the 2015 Golden Globe Award for best original song for his work with John legend on “Glory” from the film “Selma,” in which he co-starred as 1960s civil rights movement leader James Bevel. Also one of the country’s leading hip hop artists, he debuted in 1992 with the album “Can I Borrow a Dollar” and gained notable mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. Common earned his first Grammy Award in 2003 for best R&B song for “Love of My Life” with Erykah Badu and his second Grammy for best rap performance by a duo or group for “Southside” which featured Kanye West.
In addition to his recent appearance in “Selma,” Common will star in the soon-to-be-released “Run All Night” with Liam Neeson. He made his major movie debut in 2007 as villainous mob enforcer Sir Ivy in “Smokin’ Aces” and appeared alongside Denzel Washington in “American Gangster.” His other film credits include “Wanted,” “Street Kings,” “Terminator Salvation” and the comedy “Date Night.”
Common is the founder of the Common Ground Foundation, a non-profit that exposes underserved inner-city young people to new opportunity through the creative arts. Over the past 12 years, the organization has broadened its focus also to include mentoring, a summer camp and creating job-training experiences for youth throughout the City of Chicago, Common’s hometown. Last year, the Foundation hosted its inaugural Spring Youth Business Conference to provide students with job readiness skills. Also launched in 2014 was the AAHH! FEST hosted by Common, a one-day community-wide musical celebration that also provides a variety of job-related experiences for students. The Common Ground Foundation has been recognized by CNN Heroes and BET Hip Hop Awards as a philanthropic organization doing great work in urban communitie