WASHINGTON (AP/THE BLAZE) — President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will celebrate American poetry and prose with a gathering of poets, musicians and artists at the White House next Wednesday night.
Professionals Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann and Jill Scott will read, sing and highlight poetry’s influence on American culture.
And there is another poet whose works will be honored: as NH Journal points out, “One of the poets who will attend is Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. who goes by the name ‘Common.’”
“Tell the law my Uzi weighs a ton … I hold up a peace sign but I carry a gun,” raps Common in one appearance that was posted onto YouTube. The performance, you’ll see, is full of racially-tinged language.
According to NH Journal, Common is an acolyte of Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
It is likely Obama met Common at the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ where both men were members. Several of Wright’s sermons caused a firestorm of controversy during the 2008 presidential campaign due to their caustic, racially charged, anti-American tones. One sermon in particular caused Obama a severe headache – the one in which he blamed America for Osama bin Laden’s terrorist attacks. “America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” he said.
Obama at first tried to defend Wright. But when that strategy became untenable, he disavowed him. Not so Common. In fact, Common defended his minister.
“What I picked up from the pews…was messages of love,” Common said at the time. “Anything that was going on against that love he would acknowledge and expose. He’s been a preacher that’s helped raise one of the greatest political figures in the world, and hopefully, the next President. He’s also raised one of the greatest rappers in the world [meaning Common himself].”
Some of Common’s poetry could also raise some eyebrows among those who might find cop-killing and racially-tinged or misogynist language beneath the Office of the Presidency.
The White House says the first lady will also hold an afternoon workshop for students from across the country so they can learn from some of the night’s performers.
In 2009, Mrs. Obama inaugurated a White House music series that has celebrated jazz, country, classical, Motown and Latin music. She has also arranged salutes to Broadway, the music of the civil rights movement and Judith Jamison, an Alvin Ailey dancer and artistic director.