With strikingly similar backgrounds, two individuals named Wes Moore grew up in the same Baltimore neighborhood without ever knowing the other existed. While one Wes Moore, a Rhodes Scholar and author of the “New York Times” bestseller, “The Other Wes Moore: One Name Two Fates,” presented at Andover last Friday, the other now serves a life sentence for murder without parole.
Moore’s keynote speech at the 45th anniversary weekend of the African Latino American Society (Af-Lat-Am) shared not only his story, but also that of the other Wes Moore.
“I try to make it very clear that the story is not just about [the two kids in the book]. It is about a lot more than just one neighborhood and one socioeconomic group and one race and one generation. It is about all of us. It is about the decisions we make in our lives and the people we have in our lives to help us make those decisions,” said Moore in his speech.
He continued, “It is not about me, and it is not about him. The name is completely irrelevant because to be honest there are ‘others,’ like Wes Moore, in every one of our communities, schools and hallways. The fact that our society is full of people who live on a different side of town or who might not look like us, speak like us or be sitting in this chapel tonight, but whose destiny matters just as much to the safety and security of our communities as ours does.”
Moore identifies his education as the differentiating factors between his life and that of the other Wes Moore. Despite a tumultuous childhood in elementary school, Moore ultimately recognized that the choices he made with his education after primary school allowed him to succeed.
“[Education] will never simply be about a paper that you turn in or a class that you take. The highest definition of higher education means what have you done to best prepare yourself to become a global citizen and then helping to define whom you will fight for,” said Moore.
He continued, “The most fundamental lesson, not just with these two kids, but also with what they represent, is that education matters. It shapes the way we think about the world, and it changes the people in which we think about it with.”
Moore graduated from John Hopkins University in 2001 and continued on to complete a Master of Letters (MLitt) degree in international relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 2004. From 2006-2007, he worked as a White House Fellow, serving as a special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He then left the White House to become an investment professional at Citigroup, focusing mostly on global technology. Now his main focus is mentoring students and children involved in the criminal justice system.
Raised in a single-parent household in Baltimore, Moore’s success story seemed unimaginable when he was a child.
“In many cases, our bios are not our stories. Our wiki pages or a simple paragraph will never tell a whole story about our existence. And not just where we got to, but more importantly how we got there,” said Moore.
Moore has searched for an answer as to why he was chosen to be the successful one, and why he was given the privilege to be educated versus the other Wes Moore.
“I am a strong believer that potential in the United States is universal, but opportunity is not and that difference between potential and where we ald up is where we all come in,” said Moore.
Moore encouraged Andover students to take advantage of their educations.
“We have many people on this planet right now who are sitting behind the wheel of a Maserati and driving 40 mph. You are behind the wheel of a Maserati. Take the thing out for a spin and see what it can do! All of you are behind the wheel of a Maserati right now, and there is no reason for you to think about driving that thing 40 mph. Push the peddle to the floor, air it out a bit. You will be amazed at how fast that vehicle can go as long as you let it,” said Moore.
Linda Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development, said that they decided to bring Wes Moore to campus because of a mentoring program on campus called African American Mentoring Program (AMP).
Griffith said, “In AMP, incoming underrepresented students of color are paired with Uppers and Seniors to help them transition and navigate Andover. Each Christmas I give a book because I am all about reading not just for academic purposes, but also for what I call reading for resilience. It is important to read books about people who have overcome, to remind you that you can too. This was the book I gave out, therefore I thought the 45th reunion would be the perfect time to have Wes Moore come to Andover to speak.”