Bestselling author, veteran says book mirrors life experience

Waco Mayor Jim Bush presents bestselling author Wes Moore with a proclamation of Nov. 17 as Wes Moore Day on Thursday at The First Baptist Church in Waco. Moore spoke about his book, “The Other Wes Moore,” for the One Book One Waco event.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Robyn Sanders

The Baylor and Waco communities combined at First Baptist Church of Waco on Thursday evening to hear author Wes Moore tell the story behind his bestselling book.

Moore is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.” He is also an army veteran, a youth advocate and a business leader with Citigroup.

Moore was introduced by Waco mayor, Jim Bush, who declared Nov. 17, 2011, as Wes Moore Day.

“We thank Mr. Moore for his inspirational work, which will promote the diverse segments of the Waco community to come together for an open dialogue and thoughtful discussion with the goal of building a stronger, more connected and vibrant city,” Bush said.

The major inspiration behind his book, “The Other Wes Moore,” Moore said, was the relationship between him and another man with the same name, whose lives turned out vastly different.

At the same time Moore was being awarded the prestigious Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford in 2004, another man named Wes Moore was being sentenced to life in prison for killing a man during a jewelry store robbery.

Moore connected with, and befriended, the man through letters and visits in prison, and was surprised to learn that they both grew up in the same part of Baltimore.

Moore said he learned from his conversations with the other Wes Moore was that people are not products of their environment; they are products of their expectations.

“Expectations matter because in so many cases, we become self-fulfilling prophesies,” Moore said. “What’s important to remember about expectations is this: they’re not born from nowhere. The expectations that people have of themselves are born out of the expectations that other people have of them.”

Moore said one thing he wanted to make clear about his book is that it is less of an autobiography than a social commentary on how different someone’s life can be with the proper support from people around them.

“Everybody has an opportunity. Everybody should have a chance,” Moore said. “The more we embrace that, the more we make sure that . . . avoidable tragedies that happen far too often in our society won’t have to continue to happen.”

Moore said the biggest impact on his life was made by people who stepped in and cared for and supported him in a way that he wasn’t doing for himself.

“I know how important it is that people intervene in other people’s lives,” Moore said. “I know it not just because of stats and I know it not just because of other anecdotes, but I know it because I know my own life.”

Baylor was a presenting sponsor of the event put on by the One Book One Waco campaign of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

Jeff Steely, a member of the One Book One Waco steering committee, said One Book One Waco and its sponsors helped supply more than 900 copies of Moore’s book to Waco area high schools.

“One Book is a community program with two primary goals: to promote reading and literacy, and to bring our community together in conversation around a good book,” Steely said.