Common Encourages African Americans To See The World & #FindYourPark

Common #FindYourPark

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 11: Common serves as Honorary Grand Marshal at the National Park Service Centennial Event at Washington Park on June 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for the National Park Foundation)

Common returned to his native Chicago on June 11 with one specific message: #FindYourPark.

The Oscar-winning rapper and actor partnered with the National Park Service and National Park Foundation to celebrate the centennial of the National Park System in Washington Park on Chicago’s Southside.

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“The whole thought behind Find Your Park is about bringing some peace and happiness,” Common said as he acknowledges the violence plaguing his hometown. “People, or media, or sometimes we can focus on the tough things that’s going on in the city, but this is a beautiful city [with] incredible people here. So, it’s like, Find Your Park is, to me, one of those elements and aspects about our city that we can enjoy.”

New Orleans’s Treme Brass Band (featured in Beyoncé’s Lemonade) performing in the second line of the Park Exchange event in Chicago, IL, part of the #FindYourPark

New Orleans’s Treme Brass Band (featured in Beyoncé’s Lemonade) performing in the second line of the Park Exchange event in Chicago, IL, part of the #FindYourPark

Common served as the honorary Grand Marshall for the celebration, which highlighted the history of jazz from New Orleans and Chicago with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (Chicago) and the New Orlean’s Treme Brass Band and Black Men of Labor.

The free event also featured an interactive station from insurance-company Humana. It demonstrated the physical and mental benefits of spending time at national, state and local community parks across the country. Participants were virtually transported to rugged rock formation of the Joshua Tree in southern California and the massive Sequoia forests of Yosemite, also in California.

Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., spent much of his childhood on Chicago’s Southside at local parks. In fact, he and his friends used to host performances in the parks and watched people breakdance at their neighborhood parks.

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It wasn’t until he was 21 that he was able to see the world outside of Chicago, visiting the Statue of Liberty on New York’s Liberty Island.

“Statue of Liberty was the first one [National Park] that I got to go to,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t know it was a National Park, but it is.”