Common was set to be the esteemed commencement speaker for New Jersey’s Kean University’s 2015 graduating class. But the institution, according NBC New York, now say they’re looking into “other speaker options.”
At root of the university’s sudden change of heart was Common’s Like Water For Chocolate track “A Song For Assata,” a lyrical tribute to activist Assata Shakur who was convicted for the 1973 shooting death of New Jersey Trooper Werner Foerster.
Common’s successful crossover into the mainstream, recently solidified by an Academy Award win for “Glory,” made him an appealing candidate. But not appealing enough for Kean University to overlook outrage expressed by law enforcement officials who, in one case, called the selection a “slap in the face.”
Chris Burgos, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, said the last statement in light of Common’s rhymes.
“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.
Shakur escaped from prison in 1979 and has been living in Cuba as a fugitive (in political asylum, might we add) for decades. It was recently reported that Cuba will not turn her over to the United States government.