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Common gives his speech to a record-breaking crowd. Daily Record photos by Colton Ashabranner 

Common breaks crowd record at LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Grammy, Emmy and Oscar-Winning artist, author and activist Common spoke on Texas State University’s Common Experience theme of “Truth” in front of a record-breaking crowd inside Strahan Arena on Tuesday. 

“If we take away the title of rapper, we take away the award-winning name, what truly is your purpose and what truly is my purpose,” Common said. “It’s a question I want you to continue to ask of yourself as you continue on your journey. Who are you? What is your purpose? Well, I found, for us to find our core truth of who we are, it’s essential we find our purpose.”

Common delivered his speech as a part of the university’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Distinguished Lecture Series. He began Wednesday’s conversation with a freestyle rap as a packed Strahan Arena, which seats 10,000, cheered along. Tuesday’s discussion with Common set an attendance record for the lecture series at approximately 6,000, according to Director of the Common Experience Twister Marquiss. The previous record was set on Sept. 28, 2005 when Maya Angelou spoke in the Mall on campus between Alkek Library and the LBJ Student Center.

Texas State University Common Experience Director Twister Marquiss (left) and Common (right) hold a discussion during Wednesday's Lyndon Baines Johnson Distinguished Lecture Series inside Strahan Arena.

Common — Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn ­— asked the high school students, Texas State students and faculty and community members, “How can you get your truth?” He then began to define two resume and eulogy virtues. 

“The resume virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace,” Common said. “The eulogy virtues are the ones talked about at your funeral. Whether you were kind, grateful, thankful. Whether you were capable to love in a deep way. We all know that these eulogy virtues are more important than resumes. But our culture, and our educational system, spends more time teaching us the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate your inner light. Many of us are clear on how to build that external career than we are how to build that inner character.” 

Common said finding one’s purpose is essential in finding truth. He added that a person’s purpose is a gift that should be shared. Common said, however, that one’s purpose is consistently evolving and it’s fine to be unsure of your purpose.

“I want you all to really take time to think about what your purpose may be,” Common said. “And once you find that purpose, know that it is yours. Many people may say, ‘Well, I think you should go pursue this, or you should go after this, or you’re really talented in this area. But you know in your heart and soul what your purpose is when you do develop it. And you can own that.” 

Common concluded his lecture by saying that even if you don’t know your purpose, we all have a purpose to pursue. 

“Whatever stage you are in in your quest toward your truth, wherever you may be, I thank you all for seeking it out,” Common said. “I thank you for loving yourself and loving others … I hear a lot of elders say, ‘Man, where’s the world going? What’s going on? Like our youth is all caught up in this and that.’ No, I look at our youth and see a better future than ever.

“I see a future of young intelligent women and men, looking to create a whole country and a whole world that is better, and I’m encouraged by you guys and I want to encourage you to serve. So, as you find your purpose, and believe in your purpose and live in your purpose, I just want my people at Texas State to serve. And as the great Muhammad Ali said, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.'” 

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