Book-in-Common author urges students to help ‘the others’
When Wes Moore first sat down to talk about the title of his book, he didn’t understand the title the publisher wanted him to use.
“The Other Wes Moore.”
“There are Wes Moores everywhere,” the author recalled his publisher saying.
Moore, during his keynote address for the Book-in-Common program Tuesday night, encouraged the more than 600 people in the crowd to think about all of the Wes Moores – “the others” – in the world, who are making decisions every day that will set them on paths to success or failure.
And then he encouraged University of Louisville students to get up and do something about it.
“College can’t simply be about what we’re learning, it also has to be about what we’re doing.”
Moore’s talk served as the kick-off for a service initiative that will focus on advocacy and support of educational equity and attainment in Louisville.
In “The Other Wes Moore,” he tells about two young men with the same name who grow up in the same hometown and end up on vastly different life paths. Moore, the author, became a Rhodes Scholar, Army combat veteran and White House Fellow. The other Moore is serving a life sentence in prison.
“The destiny of ‘the others’ is going to help determine where we are and who we are” as a community, Moore said, and he encouraged the students in the crowd to take a role and responsibility in being part of the solution.
“We are products of our expectations,” he said, reminding students of the words of the other Wes Moore.
It’s possible that the person who has the capacity to cure cancer is being born right now in a place like Baltimore or west Louisville, he said, and if the community has expectations and supports these young people, they will have higher expectations of themselves and will strive to reach their goals.
“There is not a single issue in the world you can’t wrestle to the ground if you want to. The question is, will you?”
Moore challenged UofL readers to use his book “as more than a life lesson on paper” but to turn it into a call to action to better the community, said First Year Initiatives Director Christy Metzger, whose department runs the BinC program. When the program selected it this summer for students to read, a team then identified service projects to go with it.
Students were able to sign up to participate in a number of service initiatives at the talk.
“Choosing to walk by those tables is a choice. Choosing to do nothing is a choice,” Moore said before he closed. “As you sit in these seats, understand how blessed we are by our opportunities.
“Take time to understand ‘the others.’”
Represented at the event were these projects:
- GO College Louisville: The first planned ongoing service project, GO College Louisville is a grant-funded program that will place site-based college coaches at the The Academy @ Shawnee and Moore Traditional School to help high school students prepare for and succeed in college. UofL students will be mentors and tutors for students who need additional support. The Office of Community Engagement coordinates the effort.
- Student Outreach Uniting Louisville (SOUL)-related Service: SOUL is a campus service initiative to connect UofL students with one-day community service projects. Students work on these projects during Welcome Week and SOUL programs will be held throughout the fall and spring semesters.
- Service and Leadership Workshops: Student-developed leadership workshops are designed to help strengthen students’ leadership skills and provide training opportunities to support learning and participation in community-based service.
As part of the initiative, UofL students also have started a book drive for the West End School. Attendees filled several donation boxes with books.
Students who feel passionate about service were invited to attend Saturday’s “How Can We Best Serve” conference. The conference, sponsored by the Engage Lead Serve Board, Bonner Leaders program, Ideas to Action and Book-in-Common, will explore how students can be on the frontline of change in Louisville and participate in a solutions-based conversation about the challenges the community faces.