The Common Ground Foundation, created by hip hop artist, actor, and children’s author Lonnie Rashid Lynn, known as “Common,” dedicates itself to the empowerment and development of urban youth in the United States. Common’s social-conscience message is the cornerstone of the Foundation’s vision and serves as an inspiration for equality, opportunity, and hope among youth in underserved communities. The Foundation is committed to empowering youth in urban neighborhoods and providing them with the life skills they need to achieve their dreams.
In an effort to encourage and inspire youth to read, the Common Ground Foundation has launched The Corner, a national online book club. This interactive platform provides youth, ages 13-18, with an opportunity to learn about and discuss reading materials that are relevant to their lives. Featured books convey messages of tolerance, compassion, and non-violent expression. Participants are encouraged to discuss the current reading selections and this in turn fosters the development of critical thinking skills.
Once they sign up, teens follow along with the recommended book of the month, currently Street Love by Walter Dean Myers. Members may also blog with each other about relevant topics and participate in live online chats with Common Ground Foundation staff. In the future, celebrity artists will be interviewed each month to discuss their favorite books and relate why reading is so important to them.
The Common Ground Foundation was recently spotlighted on ABC 7 Chicago’s “People, Places & Things: Lifting Future Leaders,” a news feature that highlights success stories of organizations and individuals making efforts to nurture interest in business, television production, and the arts and sciences in Chicago’s minority youth community. ABC 7 Chicago praised the foundation for working in tandem with Little Black Pearl, to groom African American youth interested in the arts. Little Black Pearl, an organization located on the city’s South Side, teaches youth to combine their artistic ability with a strong business sense.
In addition to being recognized by ABC 7 Chicago, the American Library Association (ALA) recently selected Common for its READ Campaign poster, where celebrities pose with their favorite book, creating posters that hang in schools and libraries across the country. Common also took time to fill out ALA’s READ questionnaire, sharing how libraries positively changed his life. His responses are reprinted below.
For more information about the Common Ground Foundation and The Corner, visit http://www.commongroundfoundation.org.
Profession: Rap Artist/Actor/Author
What’s your favorite book? The Alchemist and The Secret
What are you reading now? The Secret
What does the library mean to you? How has the library helped you? The library for me, is a place that I feel is a very unique place to go to, to be able to spend time with yourself in literature that you can enjoy that can enhance and educate you.
Why do you think libraries/librarians are important to a community and/or an individual? I believe libraries have info to help us find things that we are looking for. They are a guide to the books that we need.
From what library did you get your first library card? On 88th and Stony Island, a local library around my house.
Do you have any favorite library memories? Just really being able to go and check out some of my favorite books.
Where is your favorite place to read? In the front room of my house and on the plane.
You know how important the library has been in your life. What advice would you give young people about making the library a part of their lives? It’s definitely an avenue for you to learn and grow. Make use of all your resources and the library is a significant source.