Revered author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou had some choice words for actor-rapper Common.

Revered author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou had some choice words for actor-rapper Common.

“I wish he was common. The truth, he is rare,” Angelou said recently while accepting an award in Chicago from the Common Ground Foundation’s Inaugural Women of Excellence & Leadership Gala. The event was emceed by ABC7’s Cheryl Burton.

Angelou, as well as actress Keke Palmer, comedienne-actress Sherri Shepherd and entrepreneur Dee Robinson Reid, earned top honors from the foundation started by Common.

Common started the foundation to empower youth in underserved communities and regaled Angelou as a “living legend” and said he and the crowd was “being blessed by such a supreme soul.”

“As a kid, one of the first poems I read and influenced me was called “Still I Rise.” I used it to elevate myself and think about where I come from and where I want to go. It’s not many people we can say that we’re so excited to be in the presence of. It has nothing to do with stars, but the stars that shine bright on other people and when they illuminate, they illuminate others,” the Chicago native said of Angelou.

Angelou reciprocated the same adulation about Common.

“I wanted to speak about Common, who is extremely uncommon. When I first heard him, I knew he was rare. I thought, my goodness, this young man…hello. So good, so talented, well raised. When I met his mother, I understood much. I will always support him. I know that I stand on the shoulders of great men and women. And I know there are young men and women who stand upon my shoulders,” she said.

Teen actress-singer Keke Palmer also praised him.

“I love Common and what he does. I love what the foundation represents. It makes me feel like I’m sending the right messages to my peers. There are little kids out there who don’t know they can do much. This foundation is giving them the resources to make it happen. To honor me puts me in the same light,” Palmer, a south suburban Robbins native, told the Defender.

Chicago native Sherri Shepherd said Common “walks the talk.”

“He really wants to give back and inspire others. Whatever I can do to bring any kind of awareness to it, I will,” she said.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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