Monday, June 14, 2010

Two Men and Two Paths

Nick Kristof with a beautiful op ed in today's NY Times about my friend Wes Moore, which mentions his book, The Other Wes Moore (, and KIPP charter schools (I've been on KIPP's board in NYC for nearly a decade).

When Wes Moore won a Rhodes scholarship in 2000, The Baltimore Sun published an article about his triumph. He was the first student at Johns Hopkins to win a Rhodes in 13 years, and the first black student there ever to win the award.

At about the same time, The Sun published articles about another young African-American man, also named Wes Moore. This one was facing charges of first-degree murder for the killing of an off-duty police officer named Bruce Prothero, a father of five.

Both Wes Moores had troubled youths in blighted neighborhoods, difficulties in school, clashes with authority and unpleasant encounters with police handcuffs. But one ended up graduating Phi Beta Kappa and serving as a White House fellow, and today is a banker with many volunteer activities. The other is serving a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

"One of us is free and has experienced things that he never even knew to dream about as a kid," the successful Wes Moore writes in a new book, "The Other Wes Moore." "The other will spend every day until his death behind bars. ... The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his."

For me, the book is a reminder of two basic truths about poverty and race in America.


Two Men and Two Paths

Published: June 11, 2010

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