“I thank you all for having the capacity and will to rewrite your story,” stated rapper, actor and activist Common in his speech in James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall on Oct. 5.

Visiting campus as part of St. Thomas’ Homecoming-Family Weekend festivities, Common was invited to speak by the Diversity Activities Board (DAB). In his address, he spoke about the importance of both activism and self-activism, highlighting the significance of prioritizing mental health.

The power of one individual to change the world by rewriting today’s story was also a recurring theme throughout the speech. “We were all created with a light to give the world,” Common said. “Even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, you still gotta step out there … when you take one step, God will take two steps to you … know that you’re in your purpose, and living in your purpose is actually us beginning to rewrite our story.”

This is what some Tommies had to say in response to Common’s speech:

“He hit a lot of things that need to be said. It was interesting to see the transition from MC to activist – it shows a lot of versatility.” – Mihad Semir ’21

“I was shocked he mentioned mental health. I was like, ‘This is awesome.’ This is what we need, especially at a university.” – Abigail Andrade Flores ’21, DAB education and programming intern

“He talked a lot about Black Lives Matter and mental health, which are really important to me.” – Amina Sharif  ’19

“His words were so inspiring, both as a person of color and a person at St. Thomas. I was surprised he’s not always happy! It’s reassuring to know he’s a human too.” – alumna Jenifer Adriene Burks ’05, ’12 MBA

“Rewriting our story, the story of now, is very important.” – Fatoumata Jaiteh ’19

“Self-love is just as important as giving.” – Erum Osman ’19

“He makes you want to be a better person. It was automatically motivating.” – Ben Smeed ’21

“It’s always cool to see a person who’s done so much good in front of you and know that they come from where you were.” – Danielle Wong ’20

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