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"I think our future is bright": Common encourages young people to exercise their right to vote

Rapper and activist Common on 2020 vote
Rapper and activist Common on 2020 vote 11:11

Many know Common as the Grammy and Oscar-winning rapper and songwriter, but he is also a voting rights activist. As Election Day nears, he has been visiting battleground states and encouraging young people to vote.

In an interview on CBSN Thursday, Common said he has been doing his part to educate communities about the election process.

"I was doing my best to communicate why we are a part of this and why this is necessary, and how this could actually change our lives and our family members' lives and our communities and actually create the system and the country that we're all saying we want, and now I think voting is the action," he said.

Young and first-time voters have been turning out in large numbers for the 2020 election. The rapper said these young people have been active on social media and protesting for a variety of causes, but now they are "connecting the dots" and having their voices heard with their vote.

"They see the effects of what can happen," Common said. "They realize OK, I'm wearing a Breonna Taylor shirt, and I'm speaking up for Breonna Taylor, but if I don't go vote in my local and state elections and for presidential, you know, federal officials, then I'm not doing the action to actually change the situation for a person like Breonna Taylor, who lost her life."

Common, 48, went on to explain that the young voters he has met are "intelligent" and "forward-thinking," and chuckled while saying he felt he wasn't as smart at age 28.

"It's a beautiful thing. I think our future is bright. We've been dealing with some tough times, but I'm starting to say, 'Man, these times are about to move. We're moving past these times and voting is one of our biggest steps to get past these times,'" he said.

Souls to the Polls in Miami
Common speaks at the Souls to the Polls event at The Purple Church in Miami on October 25, 2020.  David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty

Common, who voted for the first time at the age of 27, said he is not surprised about how little some people know about local races. A reason for this, he said, is due to a large number of names on ballots. However, he added that some just don't do their due diligence to learn who the candidates are.

"I understand what it is to not feel like a part of this process, and not feel like politics has anything to do with you until it clicks, and it clicked it for me, and I'm grateful it did, and I'm continuing to spread that so it'll click for other individuals."

Recently, Common was in South Carolina campaigning for Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, who is running against longtime Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. The rapper said he threw his support behind Harrison because he believes the candidate "can make sound decisions."

"I made a decision early on when I was deciding to vote," he said. "I'm going to vote for people who I believe are good human beings, who take into consideration all walks of life, and I'm going to use my own intelligence and discernment to make those decisions. I look for good leaders, and a leader is someone who does serve the people, someone who is taken into consideration, is not self-serving, but is considerate of the communities that they represent, the people that they make decisions for."

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