Social Justice Book Lecture Features Wes Moore

Hiral Patel

Author Wes Moore spoke about his book at the annual Social Justice Book Lecture on Oct. 16.

Moore is the author of “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.” This novel is the story of two children with the same name, but completely different outcomes in life. They both start out similarly, and then later their paths change directions. The author experiences success while the other Wes Moore is serving a life sentence in prison.

The book was chosen for the lecture by Scott Curtis, research and liaison librarian at Miller Nichols Library, Gloria Tibbs, information and instructional librarian at MNL and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. The event took six months to plan.

The Social Justice Book Lecture opened with an introduction by Chancellor Leo E. Morton.

“We have both folks from the campus and from the community coming together, and that’s what we need a lot more of,” Morton said. “We can have the opportunity to come together to both understand and tackle some of our community vision.”

Following the chancellor, student Vincent Tabb gave a background on Moore.

“Moore is a youth advocate, army combat veteran, promising business leader and author,” Tabb said. “He graduated Pi Theta Kappa as Admission Officer from Valley Forge Military College in 1998 and Pi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations. He completed a Master of Letters in international relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 2004.”

Moore started the evening by sharing the importance of making a difference in the world. He explained that a transcript may be the smallest object that will benefit students’ futures. Moore said that students’ futures are based on what they do to help others.

Moore went on to explain the publication of his novel. He had many ideas – with specific meanings – for the title of his book. The publishers thought otherwise, which contributed to the current name of the novel. Moore did not agree with “The Other Wes Moore.”

“This story is about much more than just these two kids,” Moore said. “It’s about much more than just one name, it’s about much more than one neighborhood, it’s about much more than one social economic group, it’s about much more than just one race, it’s about much more than one generation, it’s about all of us,” Moore said. He continued by humoring the audience. “What self- respected author do you know who put their own name inside of the title of a book.  “The third thing I didn’t like about the title is that no one knows who one Wes Moore is, so why does anybody care who the other Wes Moore is?”

Moore continued.

“The name is really irrelevant … because the fact is that there are Wes Moores in every one of our schools, in every one of our communities and in every one of our homes. Kids are literally one decision away,” Moore said.

Moore struggled with questions of how to make a child successful.

“There is no single anecdote that we can offer that’s going to determine the final destiny of a child,” Moore said. “Raising kids is amazingly complicated, and if you happen to raise kids in some of the most dangerous and precarious communities of our country, it is that much more complicated.”

Moore is a firm believer that potential in the U.S. is universal, but opportunity is not.

“The difference between potential and where we all end up is where we all come in,” Moore said.

He said he believes every child in this country is born with the assets needed to have success. They just don’t have the necessary tools.

Moore shared a self- assessment of his views towards the situation in his novel.

“The fact that it took a name to shake me embarrasses me. The fact is, I should’ve been shaken long before then,” Moore said.

The lecture concluded with a round of questions from students and faculty. Later, Moore signed books and greeted audience members.