New Jersey’s Kean University has cancelled Common as its commencement speaker after police pointed out a track he recorded 15 years ago about a woman convicted of killing a cop.
State Police union president Chris Burgos called the choice a “slap in the face” because lyrics in Common’s 2000 recording “A Song for Assata” portrays Assata Shakur (born Joanne Chesimard) as a victim.
Chesimard, a former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army, was convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper. She remains in Cuba after she escaped from prison.
The school announced the Oscar winner’s selection on Monday, but said Tuesday night that he was being pulled. University spokeswoman Susan Kayne told The Record newspaper that their Common announcement was made prematurely and the school is pursuing other speaker options.