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In December 2000, The Baltimore Sun Ran A Small Piece About Wes Moore, A Local Student Who Had Just Received A Rhodes Scholarship. The Same Paper Also Ran A Series Of Articles About Four Young Men Who Had Allegedly Killed A Police Officer In A Spectacularly Botched Armed Robbery. The Police Were Still Hunting For Two Of The Suspects Who Had Gone On The Lam, A Pair Of Brothers. One Was Named Wes Moore.
2. Some identities can be seen by others, and other identities are only known to others if the individual chooses to share it. What identities can you "see"? What are some identities you may not be able to see?
6. Wes's mother and grandparents had a lot of rules for Wes. What were some of their rules? Do you think they were fair or too strict? Why do you think they had so many rules? How does Wes's experience with rules and structure relate or differ from your own experience?
"The two Wes Moores, along with their friends and family members, experience different losses, to differing degrees, throughout the book. These losses include the loss of a family member, the loss of youth and innocence, the loss of freedom, and the loss of time amongst others. Similarly, both Wes Moores and the people in their lives demonstrate various forms of faith and experience redemption in very different ways. Religion, hope, trust, second chances, and forgiveness are all reoccurring examples of faith and redemption that emerge throughout the book."
This was one of our first visits. I had driven a half hour from my Baltimore home, and into the woody hills of central Maryland to Jessup Correctional Institute to see Wes. Immediately upon entering the building, I was sternly questioned by an armed guard and roughly searched to ensure I wasn't bringing anything that could be passed on to Wes. Once cleared, another guard escorted me to a large room that reminded me of a public school cafeteria. This was the secured area where prisoners and their visitors came together. Armed guards systematically paced around the room. Long tables with low metal dividers separating the visitors from the visited were the room's only furnishing. The prisoners who were marched in, shackled and dressed in orange or blue jumpsuits, or grey sweatsuits with "DOC" emblazoned across the chest. The uniforms reinforced the myriad other signals all around us: the prisoners were owned by the state. Lucky inmates were allowed to sit across a regular table from loved ones. They could exchange an initial hug and then talk face-to-face. The rest had to talk to their families and friends through bulletproof glass using a telephone, visitor and the prisoner connected by receivers they held tight to their ears.
I was taught to remember, but never question. Wes was taught himself to forget, and never ask why. We learned our lessons well, and were showing them off to a tee. We sat there, just a few feet from each other, both silent, pondering an absence.
Nikki and I would play this game: I would sit on the living room chair while Nikki deeply inhaled and then blew directly in my face, eliciting hysterical laughs on both sides. This was our ritual. It always ended with me jabbing playfully at her face. She'd run away and bait me to give chase. Most times before today I never came close to catching her but today, I caught her and realized, like a dog chasing a car, I had no idea what to do. So, in the spirit of three-year-old boys everywhere who've run out of better ideas, I decided to punch her. Of course my mother walked into the room right as I swung and connected.
My mother had what we called "Thomas Hands," a tag derived from her maiden name: hands that hit so hard you only had to be hit once to know you never wanted to be hit again. The nickname began generations ago, but each generation took on the mantle of justifying it. Those hands were now reaching for me. Her eyes told me it was time to get moving.
My father was in the living room, ten feet from where the entire incident began. He was a very slender 6'2 with a bushy mustache and a large afro. It wasn't his style to yell. When he heard my mother's outburst he rose from his chair, his eyes widening in confusion. My mother slowly reeled herself in. But she wasn't completely mollified.
Moore also attended a rich, white school called Riverdale. Whenever he was on campus, seeing the beauty and opulence, he felt lost and guilty. He knew his mother struggled to keep his enrollment active, and he felt like an outsider among the privileged students. He suffered emotionally, feeling self-conscious. His grades began to diminish, and his personal standards for success plummeted.
Within a few years he had been incarcerated for good for his role in the death of the police officer shot by his brother, Baltimore Sgt. Bruce Prothero. The killing left five more children fatherless.
The author stated "The other Wes Moore is a drug dealer, a robber, a murderer. I am a Rhodes scholar, a White House Fellow, a former Army officer. Yet our situations could easily have been reversed." Jen Steele of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote that "Moore's message is that it takes a village - and a bit of luck - to successfully navigate the negative surroundings where so many urban youths grow up." Dave Rosenthal of The Baltimore Sun stated that the comparison and contrast between the Moores was similar to that between different sections of Baltimore, which have neighborhoods of varying levels of quality and safety.
In his interview, the author stated that his intended audience includes young people who are "going through transitions to adulthood" as well as their parents and guardians, other people who work with them, and people in organizations working with youth.
The author served in the U.S. military, was an aide to Condoleezza Rice, and worked in investment banking. The author, whose father died after a medical misdiagnosis, stated that he was, as a pre-teen, failing classes and getting into legal trouble, but that his life changed after his mother sent him to Valley Forge Military Academy and College.
The book also documents Wesley John "Wes" Moore, born in 1975, who was also raised in Baltimore in the 1980s. This Moore, whose father abandoned him, sold illegal drugs. Wesley's mother Mary Moore, who had an associate's degree from the Community College of Baltimore, never attended Johns Hopkins University, even though she received admission, due to the cancellation of her Pell Grant. The other Wes Moore attempted to escape a life of crime, but he robbed a jewelry store on February 7, 2000, as part of a scheme with his brother, Richard Antonio "Tony" Moore, and two other men. Tony Moore shot and killed Sergeant Bruce A. Prothero during the getaway. All four were convicted of offenses related to the incident. Prothero's death left five children without a father and a wife without her husband.
The author first read about the other Wes circa 2000; according to the author, the article he first read was in The Baltimore Sun. Both Wes Moores grew up in low income environments and had encountered issues with illegal drugs and violence in their youths. The author mailed a letter to the prisoner, and one month later, to his surprise, got a response. The two began a mail correspondence and then the author visited the prisoner at Jessup. As part of the process, the author learned about the prisoner's history. He stated that he did not wish to judge the other and to be open in discussions so he could honestly explore the events. The author stated that he probably would not have written The Other Wes Moore if he had never gotten to know him as a person.
In addition to Moore, he interviewed members of his own family and members of the other Wes's family. In regards to interviewing his own family, the author stated that he felt humiliated by some of the details and that there were facts he was unaware of until he did the interview. He added that he had difficulty getting information out of his family, and that "At first I was getting what they wanted me to hear. At times I felt like an eight-year-old asking questions from my mom or my uncle or my grandmother." He stated that "The interviews with my family were just as tough, just hearing some of the facts about your life and your family's lives."
The book serves as both a biography of the other Wes Moore and an autobiography of the author. Sragow states "The autobiographical parts ruthlessly analyze how the writer fell into bad behavior, then developed his brain and conscience" after intervention from loved ones. Sragow stated that the book, in regards to both the biography and autobiography, "refuses to whitewash anything".
The author examines why he found success in life and the other Wes Moore did not; the author said he had a support network and had role models that encouraged him to make positive decisions, and he also added that his education provided immense help to him. Frances Romero of Time stated that "In the case of the other Wes Moore, there appears to be no clear answer as to what went wrong." The website of Oprah Winfrey also stated that in regards to the other Wes, "Now, [the author] knows there's no simple answer." Thembe Sachikonye, who had a correspondence with the author, wrote in the Zimbabwean newspaper Newsday that "The juxtaposition between their lives, and the questions it raised about accountability, chance, fate and family, had a profound impact on Wes."
The author stated that the other's mother losing her Pell Grants affected their future, and he argued that the man's future may have been different if his role models were stronger. Sragow stated that in that regard the author "acknowledges the unfairness of accident and history." However the author stated, in regards to the other Wes Moore's declaration that people will fail if people do not expect them to succeed, "I sympathized with him, but I recoiled from his ability to shed responsibility seamlessly and drape it at the feet of others." Steele stated "But the book makes it clear that personal responsibility also is paramount." 2b1af7f3a8