BY RONALD HANAKI
SC Staff Writer
The Kurtz Lecture Hall in the Moore Biology Building played host to an evening discussion of “The Other Wes Moore – One Name, Two Fates,” on the night of October 23rd.
Jeter Smith, Linden Hall’s resident director, led the evening’s discussion. He began by requesting the audience to sit closer to the podium for a more intimate discussion. He then asked the audience for general comments about the book. What was it that made one person succeed? What was the variable?
Various students gave their opinions about the book. Then, Dr. Peter Pruim chimed in by noting that the mother of the author Wes Moore found a newspaper ad about the other Wes Moore’s involvement in a crime, and she sent the newspaper ad to her son. That became the genesis of the book.
Jeter Smith then asked, “How is this story reflective of our own lives?” Gabby, an ESU junior, replied by talking about the road not taken. Gabby asked, “Why did you make these choices?”
Gabby noted that the other Wes Moore’s mother never got a good education. As a result, her son was never able to gain the critical thinking skills that could have enabled him to look or think outside the box. This limited his decision-making skills, and goes some way toward explaining why he is in prison for life now.
Another voice in the audience, Nancy Lieberman, talked about the importance of having somebody in your life that believes in you. Having a support network helps in ensuring one’s success.
Mr. Smith then asked, “How many people believe that it takes a community to raise a child?” He then talked about his own life story of growing up in East Cleveland. He said that the films “Boyz n the Hood” and “Menace II Society” were accurate portrayals of his neighborhood. Despite these hardships, Mr. Smith always believed that education would be his ticket out, and his college education has helped him achieve a successful life as an RD at ESU.
More specifically, he credits his high school guidance counselor for helping him. It was she who convinced him to take a college visit to Hiram College with his mother. The visit went so well that in a bit of serendipity, he was accepted into the college at the end of his college visit. He then asked the audience, “Has anyone had a curveball like that?”
Mr. Smith continued by reading some excerpts from the book. One notable passage concerned a turning point in Wes Moore’s life. Mr. Smith turned to the audience and asked, “Was there a turning point in your life?” That led some students to share their own life-changing stories.
Jeter Smith ended the evening by talking about his own unpleasant experiences with racial profiling. It may not be a perfect world, but he talked about the importance of making rational and informed decisions – especially now that he himself is responsible for providing for his own family. Indeed, The Other Wes Moore can be read as a cautionary tale of how bad decisions can lead to bad outcomes and even ruin people’s lives.
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