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1. Common elevated the spirits of Hollywood's A-listers when he and John Legend performed "Glory" at the 2015 Oscars before going on to win for Best Original Song.
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2. Common appeared in 2008's "Yes We Can" video for President Obama's campaign, and—you know what?—yes we did!
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3. The Chicago native established the Common Ground Foundation to expose underserved inner-city youth to new opportunities through the creative arts.
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4. Having appeared in the PETA campaign "Think Before You Eat," Common now follows a pescatarian diet (no meat except seafood).
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5. Giving us all an important lessson in the fight for voting rights, Common played Civil Rights leader James Bevel in 2015's Selma.
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6. Songs like "The People," a Grammy-nominated single from Common's 2007 album Finding Forever, remind us about the everyday struggle.
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7. On 2005's "The Corner," Common told why it's hard out there in the hood, rapping about "street lights and deep nights, cats trying to eat right."
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8. Playing the recently freed slave Elam Ferguson on the AMC series Hell on Wheels, Common took us back to our roots—and reminded us of what we've overcome.
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9. In 2007, the rapper took a stand against homophobic lyrics in hip-hop, vowing he would no longer use any gay slurs in his music.
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10. Following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Common appeared in a documentary short film, Beats4Justice, to lend his voice for change.
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