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*Common was born on this date in 1972. He is a Black rapper, actor, writer, philanthropist, and activist.
He was born Lonnie Corant Lynn Jr., better known by his stage name Common in Chicago, Illinois. Raised in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, he is the son of an educator, and former principal Mahalia Ann Hines and former ABA basketball player turned youth counselor Lonnie Lynn. His parents divorced when he was six years old, and Lynn was raised by his mother while his father remained active in his life. Lynn attended Florida A&M University for two years under a scholarship and majored in business administration.
He debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained an underground following into the late 1990s, after which he gained mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. In 1994 he was forced to abbreviate his name from Common Sense to Common, due to a lawsuit by an Orange County-based reggae group called Common Sense. Common's first major-label album, Like Water for Chocolate (2000), received commercial success.
In 2003, he won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for the Erykah Badu single "Love of My Life". His 2005 album Be was also a commercial success and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Common received his second Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Southside" (featuring Kanye West) from his 2007 album Finding Forever. In 2011, Common launched Think Common Entertainment, his record label imprint, having previously released music under various other labels, including Relativity, Geffen, and GOOD Music. Common won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song for his song "Glory" from the 2014 film Selma, in which he co-starred as American Civil Rights Movement leader James Bevel.
He also narrated the documentary Bouncing Cats, about one man's efforts to improve the lives of children in Uganda through hip-hop/b-boy culture. He starred as Elam Ferguson on the AMC western television series Hell on Wheels. Common used to be vegan. In addition, he is a supporter of animal rights and PETA. He appeared in a print advertisement for PETA titled "Think Before You Eat" and in a documentary titled Holistic Wellness for the Hip-Hop Generation, where he promoted vegetarianism.
He is also part of the "Knowing Is Beautiful" movement, which supports HIV/AIDS awareness. He is in the video for "Yes We Can," supporting the candidacy of Barack Obama in 2008. Common has pledged to stop using anti-gay lyrics in his music. Common is the founder of the Common Ground Foundation, a non-profit that seeks to empower underprivileged youth to be contributing citizens and strong leaders worldwide. The foundation includes programs dedicated to leadership development & empowerment, educational development, creative expression, and a book club.
In 2017, Common performed concerts in several California prisons and the California State Capitol. This concert tour inspired him to found Imagine Justice, another non-profit organization devoted to empowering communities and fighting injustice. Common is both a Chicago Bulls and Chicago Bears fan. He is a Christian, attending Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In 2019, he served as Florida A&M University's spring commencement speaker and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree after his address.
In May 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Common launched a social media campaign through Imagine Justice, dubbed #WeMatterToo, with dozens of advocacy and activist groups calling attention to the threat that the pandemic poses for incarcerated men and women and intended to create greater public awareness about conditions facing incarcerated populations. The campaign includes producing short films that will include recordings of inmates expressing their concern about the coronavirus spreading inside prisons.