Common's White House Visit Slammed by Critics

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4. He has a literary background. Common attended Florida A&M University for two years on scholarship and majored in business administration. But he relished reading -- according to a 2000 Los Angeles Times profile, he delved into the work of authors James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright in college. More recently, his mother, former school teacher Mahalia Hines, encouraged him to write three children's books. "My mom said, 'You've got to multitask,'" he told Newsweek.

5. He's never killed anyone. He told Esquire in 2007: "I grew up in Chicago, so I've seen some street s**t point-blank -- cats shooting at you, whoop barn boo. I've never killed anybody physically -- maybe on the mic I have."

6. It's not the first time a poetry reading at the White House has roused critics. In February 2003, former First Lady Laura Bush planned a "Poetry and the American Voice" symposium at the White House, inviting prominent poets to celebrate the works of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman. Several of the invitees -- including former U.S. poet laureates Rita Dove and Stanley Kunitz -- declined her offer, and some joined poets all over the world in reading verse protesting American action in Iraq. The event was canceled and never rescheduled.

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