Common has often explored racial and social justice in his work as an artist, actor, author and activist. His new album, “A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2,” asks what comes next after the events of the past year and a half. Common speaks with Washington Post opinions writer Jonathan Capehart about the message behind his latest music and his advocacy work on issues from mass incarceration to voting.

Highlights

While his last album focused on how to harness the energy of the growing calls for social justice, Common said his latest album is more about each individual’s role. “The killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery were right there. There was so much racial tension and just hurt and anger and protest and movement going on. Part one… was really about revolution in a way that was like ‘Hey, I’m taking… all this energy and turning it into something possible… I wanted part 2 to have that self-aware change, where it’s like ‘Okay, how can I be a better person?’’ (Washington Post Live)
The rapper and activist said Floyd’s murder will be seen as ‘a turning point in history.’ “I truly believe Black Americans are being heard in a new way now. George Floyd’s murder was really a turning point in history… His life is gone, but his life means so much to history now.” (Washington Post Live)
“He was accused of murder and convicted of murder when several people said he didn’t even fit the description… He had never had any crimes, no violence in his life. He was in school playing basketball. He’s been in jail for over 21 years. They’re trying to execute this individual in Oklahoma.” (Washington Post Live)

Common

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Common is an artist, actor, author and activist. With a storied career spanning three decades, his work has been recognized with numerous GRAMMY® Awards, as well as an Emmy® and an Academy® Award for the song “Glory” which he co-wrote and performed with John Legend. In September 2021, he will release his latest album A BEAUTIFUL REVOLUTION Pt. 2 through Loma Vista Recordings.

Moderated by Jonathan Capehart

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board, writes about politics and social issues, and hosts the “Cape Up” podcast. He is also an MSNBC Contributor, who regularly serves as a substitute anchor, and has served as a guest host on “Midday on WNYC” on New York Public Radio. Capehart is a regular moderator of panels at the Aspen Ideas Festival and for the Aspen Institute, the Center for American Progress and at the Atlantic Dialogues conference and the Brussels Forum of the German Marshall Fund. He has also moderated sessions at the Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum and for the Connecticut Forum. Capehart was deputy editorial page editor of the New York Daily News from 2002 to 2004, and served on that paper’s editorial board from 1993 to 2000. In 1999, his 16-month editorial campaign to save the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem earned him and the board the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. Capehart left the Daily News in July 2000 to become the national affairs columnist at Bloomberg News, and took a leave from this position in February 2001 to serve as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his first successful campaign for New York City mayor.