Author Wes Moore will speak tonight at the annual banquet of On Point, a local youth development organization. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by calling 899-9188.
In the compelling book "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates," two men by the same name living in Baltimore at about the same time chose paths in life that were wildly different.
Wes Moore, the author, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and a Rhodes Scholar, traveled the world in military service. The other Wes Moore was convicted of a robbery that left an officer dead. The act landed him in prison for the rest of his life. When the author read the newspaper clips about this other Wes Moore's criminal activities, he couldn't let the story go. He had to meet this man.
Both boys struggled with school at various points, but the author Wes Moore had a family that valued education and sacrificed to place him in institutions that taught him discipline as well as academics. The imprisoned Wes Moore dropped out of school when he began to face challenges in his personal life that caused him to flounder in his studies.
The first saw a world of opportunity open up to him through the people he met along the way, the latter found himself following after an older brother who was entrenched in crime, facing a daily life without purpose and frantically searching for a quick fix to keep from drowning in an ocean of poverty.
It is the writer Wes Moore who took the road less traveled. As young black men growing up in urban America, he and the other Wes faced societal temptations, the influence of peers, and struggled to maintain inner motivation.
In these stories we see the amazing impact that small and large choices make in our lives, the tragic realities of those left to navigate them without consistent support and resources, and how transformative a committed network of family, educators, and loving community are to helping young people reach success.
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a local therapist and free-lance writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.