Students at Kean University in Union, New Jersey recently learned that Common will not be speaking at their graduation ceremony this year.

The Academy Award winning rapper was announced as the commencement speaker on Monday (March 30) night via the university’s official Twitter and its main website. Yet, mere hours later, school officials retracted their statement, due to concerns from state law officials.

According to, the university’s decision to select Common as its speaker was “strongly opposed” by NJ police. The issue revolves around lyrics within Common’s track “A Song for Assata.”

Although the song was released nearly 15 years-ago, police are still sensitive to the fact Assata Shakur, whom Common refers to in the song, was involved in the killing of a state trooper and wounding another.

Susan Kayne, spokeswoman for the university stated on the school’s website that “The students expressed interest in Common because he composed the Oscar-winning song ‘Glory’ with our prior commencement speaker John Legend.

“While we respect his talent, Kean is pursuing other speaker options,” Kayne said.

In 2011, Kean paid Common’s “Glory” counterpart, John Legend, $25,000 to speak at its graduation ceremony.

Kayne told that “the majority of posts on social media were very positive” concerning the decision to exclude Common from this year’s commencement.

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