BALTIMORE — On Wednesday, November 12, 2014, Wes Moore, New York Times best-selling author of “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates,” encouraged approximately 143 seventh and eighth-graders to understand the importance of being community-minded at the second annual “Service as a Rite of Passage” event, held at the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Moore, lead a thought-provoking discussion about personal development, education and literature. He reminded students that education is not just about achieving high grades, but also about determining your future. Classes from various schools participated in service projects. Students from National Academy Foundation School (NAF) wrote letters to military members before the “Service as a Rite of Passage” event.
“It meant a lot to me for them to know that they are a part of a larger continuum, and that they have a role to play [in] how they think about ourselves, how we think about our world, and how we think about our lives,” Moore said. “I believe in this idea that becoming a man, or becoming an adult, means that you’re living for something bigger than yourself. That’s why we wanted to incorporate this work of service into this Rites of Passage.”
Moore is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Rhodes scholar, White House Fellow, youth advocate and social entrepreneur. He currently leads an initiative called Bridge EdU. Through this program, Moore says he works to address college completion and the career placement crisis by reinventing the freshman year of college. Additionally, Moore is an Army combat veteran who served 10 years in the military.
The literary portion of the event led to a discussion about “The Other Wes Moore” a book he wrote about another young man in Baltimore with the same name but different life circumstances. Author Wes Moore explained the process of getting to know him through letters and visits to Jessup Correctional Institution. The two men with the same-name who have childhood ties to Baltimore, were raised in single-parent households, but their adult lives had different outcomes. Author Wes Moore was sent to Valley Forge Military Academy, after experiencing disciplinary issues. His life did take a positive turn. In contrast, the other Wes Moore is currently serving a life sentence in prison for murder.
“I first got a chance to learn about Wes about 13 years ago through wanted posters. I first learned about him, because I got a phone call from my mother who told me there are wanted posters in your neighborhood. At first, I wasn’t sure exactly what the point of that conversation was. That’s when she said, ‘They have your name on it,’” Moore said. “One of the big things that I’ve learned about this process is everything that happens around us requires a personal connection. What breaks God’s heart should also break ours— the tragedies, the challenges, the obstacles that people face all around us— those are ours, too. We have a larger obligation to pay attention and not simply to be apathetic.”
Camille Butler teaches eighth-graders at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, located in Laurel, Maryland. Her class read, “The Other Wes Moore” about a month ago.
“The students have thoroughly enjoyed reading into the lives of both Wes Moores. Most of their literature circles have centered on the theme of decision-making. This experience will make a difference as they embark on adulthood and personal decisions that will surely shape their future. The students are beginning to determine what their future will look like and how they can affect the world around them,” Butler said.
To learn more about Wes More and his work, visit: www.thetheotherwesmoore.com.