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Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

Wes Moore Talks “One Name, Two Fates” at Tisch College

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, was the undergraduate common book for the Tufts class of 2018. On September 8, Moore shared his message with the Tufts community.

“You can’t understand my story without understanding his story, and you can’t understand his story without understanding my story.”

That’s how Wes Moore, speaking at Tufts University on September 8, described his book The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, the undergraduate common book for the Tufts class of 2018. The Common Reading Program, cosponsored by Tisch College and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies, encourages students to think critically and engage in civil dialogue about pressing social issues while introducing them to the values of the University.

As part of the program, Moore spoke at Tufts on some of the ideas behind his book, the true story of two young men, both named Wes Moore, who grew up within a few blocks of each other in Baltimore but whose lives took drastically different turns. The author went on to be a Rhodes Scholar and former White House Fellow, while “the other” Wes Moore is serving a life sentence for murder.

The book details the story of both their lives: the circumstances they shared and the ways in which their paths, which began so similarly, started to diverge. Moore recounts how fortunate he was to enjoy a support system that helped to lead and keep him in a positive direction; a luxury that the other Wes did not enjoy.

That is one of the main themes of Moore’s book, and one he communicated and explore further during his engaging talk. “Potential in this country is universal,” he said. “But opportunity is not.”

Moore spoke in front a rapt audience that included more than 100 first-year Tufts students who had read the book. One of them was Megan Warshawsky, A18, who won the Common Reading Program’s essay contest about The Other Wes Moore.

“Hearing Moore speak was a flooring experience; I doubt there was a student or faculty member in the room that was not inspired by his electric passion to, simply put, right the wrongs of society when it comes to equality and justice,” she said.

“His writing is a wake-up call, a personal check-in, reflection and activism at its finest.”

Indeed, Moore encouraged Tufts students to start thinking about how they can make a difference in their communities, and to see their education, as he did, as a tool that will empower them to effect change. “Higher education is about learning to make an impact,” he said. “Your involvement will matter.”

Moore emphasized the necessity of that involvement—of active citizenship—by remarking that the story of two Wes Moores, though specific to his life, is also all too universal.

“This story isn’t just about Baltimore; it’s about every city under the sun,” he said. “There are Wes Moores in every one of our communities and every one of our schools.”