Common, king of conscious hip-hop, keynotes North Central’s MLK Week

Jan 17, 2014

North Central College welcomes Grammy Award-winning artist, actor and author Common as Martin Luther King Jr. Week keynote speaker.

Called the king of conscious hip-hop, Common will speak on “Greatness!” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Pfeiffer Hall. A Q&A will follow. Admission is free to North Central students, faculty and staff with a College ID. Tickets for the public are $10/person; call 630-637-7469 or visit   

Each year, North Central College honors and remembers King with a keynote presentation, musical tributes, a prayer breakfast and activities. This year’s theme is titled The Power of Words. King spoke at North Central College in 1960 during one of the College's chapel services in Pfeiffer Hall.

Common rose to prominence as one of hip-hop’s most poetic, innovative and respected lyricists, having recorded nine studio albums; his latest is titled “The Dreamer/The Believer.” He partnered with Chicago native and rap music megastar Kanye West to produce “BE” and “Finding Forever.” Their partnership resulted in four Grammy Award nominations and two MTV Video Music Award nominations.

In 2007, he launched the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to the empowerment and development of America’s urban youth.

In addition to the keynote address, this year’s MLK Week celebration at North Central includes these public events:
•    Jan. 17-March 2. “The Chicago Freedom Movement Photography” exhibit by Bernard J. Kleina
•    Jan. 19. Chicago Sinfonietta performs “Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
•    Jan. 23. Panel of North Central faculty and a professional musician will talk about artists who use music as a means of protest. Faculty panelists include Stephen Maynard Caliendo who will discuss The Clash, Richard Guzman will speak about Ray Charles, and Jonathon Kirk will discuss Nina Simone. FM Supreme, a Chicago-based hip-hop artist and community activist, will perform and speak about Public Enemy.
•    Jan. 24. Mike Farris, a rock, gospel and blues artist with The Roseland & Rhythm Revue will perform at The Union

Events just for the campus community include:
•    Jan. 20. Annual Prayer Breakfast with featured speaker and 2004 alumna NeAngela Marshall, J.D.
•    Jan. 20. Author Edward Gilbreath will discuss his new book, “Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Epic Challenge to the Church”

Nicor Gas is underwriting sponsor of Martin Luther King Jr. Week and Black History Month at North Central College. For more information about MLK Week events, contact Dorothy Pleas at 630-637-5156 or