By Jade Mardirosian
A New York Times bestselling author will speak at a local church due to the combined efforts of The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Baylor and its Academy for Leader Development, in addition to other local sponsors as part of an initiative to promote literacy.
Wes Moore, a youth advocate, Army combat veteran and business leader, will speak at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Waco, located at 500 Webster Ave.
The event is free and open to the public; doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
Moore will discuss and sign copies of his book, “The Other Wes Moore,” which is this year’s assigned book for the One Book One Waco campaign — a community-wide reading initiative to promote literacy.
Ramona Curtis, director for leader development and civic engagement for the Academy for Leader Development, said the event is an exciting partnership with Greater Waco Chamber and their One Book One Waco campaign.
“[This event] is an opportunity for us to bring a leader to our students across campus who want to study leadership or want to see the leadership styles of others who are out in the community practicing and making a difference,” Curtis said.
Moore’s book tells the story of two young men, both named Wes Moore, who grew up in the same area of Baltimore, Md. Both boys were raised by single mothers and had trouble in school and with the police, but grew up to have very different lives.
One Moore, the author, grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran and White House Fellow. The other Moore is serving a life sentence in prison for felony murder.
Curtis said the event, and Moore’s story, will help students involved in the Academy for Leader Development engage with people who may have similar stories to those described in the book.
“We are excited to expose students to this story of two young men growing up in the city and having people mold them into the people they become,” Curtis said. “Those are the kinds of leaders we want our students to see because they will be doing projects with people that have similar challenges.”
Virginia Ferguson, director of programs for community development for Greater Waco Chamber, said a committee of volunteers chooses the book for the One Book One Waco campaign.
“This year [‘The Other Wes Moore’] was chosen because of the message it portrays about community, education and bettering society,” Ferguson said.
Alexis Weaver, director of community development for Greater Waco Chamber, said the committee tries to find books that are relevant to the Waco community in some way.
“This book really explores how poverty, education and community all interact and what role personal choices, fate and community have,” Weaver said. “We thought that was a good fit with Waco. We do have a significant poverty issue here and we have the Poverty Solutions Committee that has been talking about education and poverty, [so the book] was a good fit for the current conversations in the community.”
Weaver said having an author of Moore’s prominence is great for the community.
“I think it is amazing we’ve been able to bring in a nationally recognized author to Waco,” Weaver said. “Anytime we bring authors to Waco, it’s not just good for us to meet that person, a lot of times these authors turn into ambassadors for our community. We want to change perceptions of Waco, and having a national author visit helps us.”
Weaver said it is also an important opportunity for Baylor students to hear Moore speak on leadership and community.
“It is important that Baylor students realize they are a part of this community while they are at Baylor,” Weaver said. “I think there are a lot of ways to break out of the bubble and this is one of them.”