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New Jersey school cancels Common as commencement speaker

April 1, 2015

UNION, New Jersey (AP) — New Jersey’s Kean University has cancelled hip-hop artist Common as commencement speaker after police voiced concerns over a song about a convicted cop killer who fled to Cuba.

The school announced the Academy Award winner’s selection on Monday, but said Tuesday night he would not be the speaker.

University spokeswoman Susan Kayne tells The Record (http://bit.ly/1yzl3Zi ) newspaper the announcement was made prematurely and the school is pursuing other speaker options.

Common won the Academy Award for composing the song “Glory” for the 2014 film “Selma.”

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 Joanne Chesimard as a victim.

Chesimard was convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper. She remains in Cuba after she escaped from prison.

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Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com

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