Wes Moore gets rock star reception at CSUB

Wes Moore speaks to a crowd of 1,700 - including two overflow rooms - at California State University, Bakersfield on Nov. 8, 2011.

Wes Moore signed books for about three hours after his talk at CSUB on Nov. 8, 2011.

With the thunderous cheers and applause that reverberated through the CSUB Student Recreation Center Gym on Nov. 8, one would have thought a rock star was taking the stage. But in this case, it was author Wes Moore, the man behind the 2011 CSUB Runner Reader book and the One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern common read, “The Other Wes Moore.”

The gym hit capacity with 1,300 seats; about 400 more audience members watched a live feed from two other locations on campus. And Wes Moore stayed until 11:30 p.m. – four and a half hours after his introduction – signing copies of his book for CSUB students and community members who turned out to hear him speak and meet him in person.

It was an amazing event culminating the fall read of “The Other Wes Moore,” which has touched so much of our community and sparked conversations about what we can do to help our youth succeed – to take the path chosen by the author and not fall victim to the path chosen by the other Wes Moore. The author’s speech was as much an intimate look into his inspiration to write the book as it was a call to action for the audience to do something to make the world a better place. For, as he said, “doing nothing is a choice.”

Below are some more notable quotes from his talk. To view a photo gallery from the event, visit CSUB’s Facebook page.

On the title of the book: “No one knows who one Wes Moore is, so why would we want to read about another one? The most important thing about the title is the ‘other.’ Because society is full of others.”

On the idea of the book: “The book is not meant to be a biography or an autobiography but a larger social commentary. It is meant to take readers on a journey. It’s about how decisions we think are small sometimes have big consequences, and how, by understanding another person’s life, you can understand your own.”

On why he wrote the book: “The more I heard about (Wes Moore’s) story and learned about the tragedy, the more I realized how much Wes Moore and I had in common. There were questions I wanted to ask and I knew Wes was the only one who could answer them. … A friend suggested I write the book. I didn’t want to, but I asked Wes about it and he said, I’ve wasted every opportunity I’ve had in my life and I’m going to die in prison. If your book will help you change communities, then do it. … My broader intent was, ‘How can we avoid more tragedies from happening?”

On reader response: “One lady came up to me at a book signing and said, ‘I didn’t like your book. You didn’t give the answer.’ Well that’s because there is no one answer.”

Interesting fact from the night: Of all the questions submitted by CSUB students for the Q&A session with Wes Moore following his talk, the one question asked the most was, “Will you run for president?”

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