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Citizenship

How Rapper & Activist Common Is Doubling Down to Help Drive Social Justice


Why Global Citizens Should Care

In 2020, the world has faced COVID-19, climate change, and a reckoning on racial justice, making it all the more important to recognize and celebrate inspirational leaders and activists around the world, those leading us all in the effort to shape a world that is fair, just, and equal. Join the movement by taking action here to help achieve the UN’s Global Goals to end extreme poverty, and click here to find out all you need to know about the Global Citizen Prize — and how you can watch wherever you are! 


With many artistic accolades — including an Oscar and a Grammy — under his belt, rapper, activist, and Global Citizen Ambassador Common has never shied away from including social justice themes in his music and on-screen performances. 

The rapper has been an activist for many years. He is the founder of the Common Ground Foundation, a nonprofit that works to empower underprivileged youth through education and leadership initiatives. More recently, he created Imagine Justice, a nonprofit organization committed to ending the criminalization of poverty.

"I want to bring a practical change in people's lives. I want to walk down Atlantic Avenue and see someone's life change because of Global Citizen and the work I'm doing," Common told Billboard in an interview last year. "I want to help the people who are oppressed because of their skin, beliefs, and economics. I'm always in a fight for that."

Common is now joining the lineup for the Global Citizen Prize award ceremony, which will broadcast and stream around the world from Dec. 19, in honor of the year’s most inspirational leaders and activists who are working to shape a world that is more fair, just, and equal. You can find out all about Global Citizen Prize, who’s being honored, and how you can watch wherever you are, here.

Common has also called for racial justice and criminal justice reform many times, including an end to the practice of sentencing juveniles in California to life without parole.

In 2018, he joined the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization's Mass Bail Out in New York City, with Global Citizen. The effort saw 105 people freed from jails in New York City.

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Common also co-wrote the powerful song "Glory" with John Legend — host of the 2020 Global Citizen Prize Award ceremony for the second year — for Ava DuVernay's film Selma, about the historic marches for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, led by Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and John Lewis.

And yet, Common is still doubling down on his activism. 

"That is where my work is leading to now. I want to be a part of the policy change and the grassroots level of changing," he told Forbes in an interview in 2018.

"That's where my work is. I felt like the more I rap about it the more I got to do," he added.

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And Common isn’t new to Global Citizen events either. He has previously performed at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival and Global Citizen's Earth Day event in Washington, DC, in the same year.

Most recently in 2020, Common performed during Global Citizen and the World Health Organization’s “One World: Together At Home” concert to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which raised millions for preparedness and response efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The Global Citizen Prize award ceremony — hosted for a second year by John Legend — honors leaders across government, business, philanthropy, the arts and entertainment, and more, as well as among Global Citizens and young people around the world. 

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In addition to highlighting the work of extraordinary individuals leading the way in the fight to end extreme poverty and its systemic causes, and Common’s performance, Global Citizen Prize will also see performances from Alessia Cara, Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, JoJo, and Tori Kelly; and appearances from John Oliver, Katie Couric, Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Oprah Winfrey, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Scott Evans, and Usher.

You can find out more about the show and how to watch the broadcast or stream digitally around the world here


Join Global Citizen in December 2020 to celebrate the leaders among us who have stepped up against a backdrop of unprecedented global challenges to take action for the world we want — a world that is fair, just, and equal.

The broadcast and digitally streamed award ceremony will also feature inspirational stories of human strength and unforgettable performances that will bring together artists, activists, and global leaders to remind each of us that, together, we will come out of this year stronger. Find out more about the Global Citizen Prize here

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