Westley Watende Omari Moore[1] (born October 15, 1978) is an American author, entrepreneur, television producer, and United States Army veteran. From 2017 to 2021 Moore served as the CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation.[2] He is currently the Democratic nominee for governor in the 2022 Maryland gubernatorial election.[3] If elected, Moore would be the first African-American governor of Maryland.

Moore is the author of The Other Wes Moore and The Work, both of which are New York Times Bestsellers. He was also the host of Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network, as well as the executive producer and a writer for Coming Back with Wes Moore on PBS.[4]

Moore is the founder and CEO of BridgeEdU, a social enterprise dedicated to helping students in their transitions to the freshman year of college.[5] A Baltimore Banner interview with former BridgeEdU students found that the program supported them in their first year, helping them to progress toward graduation.[6]

Early life and education

Moore was born in Takoma Park, Maryland, to father William Westley Moore Jr., a broadcast news journalist,[7] and mother Joy Thomas Moore,[8] a daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and a media professional.[9][10][11]

On April 16, 1982, when Moore was nearly four years old,[12] his father died from acute epiglottitis.[13] In the summer of 1984, Moore’s mother took him and his two sisters to live in the Bronx, New York, with their grandparents. His grandfather, Rev. Dr. James Thomas, a Jamaican immigrant,[14] was the first Black minister in the history of the Dutch Reformed Church.[15] His grandmother, Winell Thomas, a Cuban who moved to Jamaica before immigrating to the United States, was a retired school teacher.[14] Moore attended Riverdale Country School. When Moore’s grades declined and he became involved in petty crime, his mother enrolled him in Valley Forge Military Academy and College.[15]

In 1998, Moore graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Valley Forge with an associate degree, completed the requirements for the United States Army‘s early commissioning program, and was appointed a second lieutenant of Military Intelligence in the Army Reserve. He went on to attend Johns Hopkins University where he studied international relations and economics and graduated Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa in 2001. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. [16] Immediately after, he attended the Wolfson College, Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, where he earned a master’s degree in international relations. He served in the Army until 2006, including overseas deployment for the War in Afghanistan, and attained the rank of captain before leaving the military in 2006.

Career

Author

In April 2010, Moore’s first book, The Other Wes Moore, was published by Spiegel & Grau. The 200-page book explores the lives of two young Baltimore boys who shared the same name and race, but largely different familial histories that leads them both down very different paths.[15][17][18] In December 2012, Moore announced that The Other Wes Moore would be developed into a feature film, with Oprah Winfrey attached as an executive producer.[19] In April 2021, Unanimous Media announced it would adapt the movie into a feature film.[20] As of June 2022, a film has yet to be produced.[21]

In September 2013, his second book, Discovering Wes Moore, was published by Ember. The book maintains the message and story set out in The Other Wes Moore, but is more accessible to young adults.[22]

In January 2015, Moore wrote his third book, The Work, which follows Moore’s journey in life and his experiences around the globe that lead him to find his passion. The book also tells the stories of other twenty-first century changemakers who inspired him in his search, including Daniel Lubetzky and Esther Benjamin.[23][24]

In November 2016, Moore wrote This Way Home, a young adult novel about Elijah, a high school basketball player, who emerges from a standoff with a local gang after they attempt, and he refuses, to recruit him to their basketball team.[25]

In March 2020, Moore and former Baltimore Sun education reporter Erica L. Green wrote Five Days, which explores the 2015 Baltimore protests from the perspectives of eight Baltimoreans who experienced it on the frontlines.[26][27]

Media

Moore at Social Innovation Summit by New America in January 2020

Moore is a news contributor to various publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times and many other publications. Moore regularly appears on various MSNBC programs including Hardball with Chris Matthews, Now with Alex Wagner, The Rachel Maddow Show, PoliticsNation, Meet The Press[28] and Morning Joe.[29] He has also made appearances on various notable programs including: Face the Nation, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,[30] The Colbert Report,[31] and Real Time with Bill Maher.[32]

In 2010, Moore founded his own company, Omari Productions, to create content for networks such as the Oprah Winfrey Network, PBS, HBO, and NBC.[33] In May 2014, Moore produced the three-part PBS series Coming Back with Wes Moore, which followed and celebrated the lives and experiences of returning veterans.[34][35][36]

In September 2016, Moore produced All the Difference, a PBS documentary that followed the lives of two young African-American men from the South Side of Chicago from high school through college and beyond.[37][38] Later that month, Moore launched Future City, an interview-based talk show that explored best practices used to solve problems in other American cities and examined how those same ideas could be applied to Baltimore, with Baltimore’s WYPR station.[39][40][41]

Robin Hood Foundation

From June 2017 until May 2021, Moore was CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, a charitable organization that attempts to alleviate problems caused by poverty in New York City. The foundation combines investment principles and philanthropy to assist programs that target poverty in New York City. This is accomplished mainly by funding schools, food pantries and shelters. It also administers a disaster relief fund.[42][43][2][44]

Honors and awards

On May 27, 2020, Moore was invited to and gave special remarks at his alma mater Johns Hopkins University‘s 2020 Commencement ceremony.[45] Other notable guest speakers during the virtual ceremony included Reddit co-founder and Commencement speaker Alexis Ohanian; philanthropist and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg; Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force; and senior class president Pavan Patel.[46]

Controversies

In June 2013, an investigation from The Baltimore Sun alleged that Moore was improperly receiving homestead property tax credits and owed back taxes to the city of Baltimore. Moore told The Sun that he was unaware of any issues with the home’s taxes and wanted to pay back what they owed immediately.[47]

In April 2022, the family of Baltimore County Police Sergeant Bruce Prothero, whose murder in 2000 is highlighted in The Other Wes Moore, accused Moore of making contradictory statements about where the proceeds of the book went, saying that the family “directed no donations” to anywhere, including the nonprofits Moore named.[48]

Moore was the subject of a CNN article in which he was accused of embellishing his childhood and where he actually grew up.[49] Shortly after the article was published, Moore created a website that attempted to rebut the allegations.[50] He was later criticized for failing to correct television interviewers who incorrectly said he was awarded a Bronze Star.[51][52] A Capital News Service article highlighted Moore’s connections to various industries, including pharmaceutical, technology, beauty and retail giants, and the Green Thumb Industries marijuana company.[53]

Political activities

Veterans activism

Moore is a vocal advocate for serving those who served in the military overseas. He has worked with various veterans groups, including Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America and Things We Read, and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Moore has also presented a TED talk at TEDSalon NY2014 titled How to Talk to Veterans About the War.

Maryland politics

In 1998 and 1999, Moore interned for Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke.[54] In 2013, he said that he had “no interest” in running for public office, instead focusing on his business and volunteer work.[55] Later that year, Attorney General Doug Gansler said that he considered having Moore as his running mate in the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial election, in which he ran with state Delegate Jolene Ivey.[56]

In 2015, Moore was seen as a potential candidate in the 2016 Baltimore mayoral election.[57] Moore declined to run in September of that year, saying that the “best way for me to serve is to fulfill the promise I’ve made to the students at BridgeEdU”.[58]

2022 Maryland gubernatorial candidacy

In February 2021, Moore announced he was “seriously considering” a run for Governor of Maryland in the 2022 election.[59] He launched his gubernatorial campaign on June 7, 2021.[60][61] His running mate is Aruna Miller, a former state delegate who represented Maryland’s 15th district from 2010 to 2019.[62]

During the primary, Moore received endorsements from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer,[63] Prince George’s County executive Angela Alsobrooks,[64] television host Oprah Winfrey,[65] and former Governor Parris Glendening.[66] He also received backing from the Maryland State Education Association[67] and VoteVets.org.[68]

Moore won the Democratic primary on July 19, 2022, defeating former Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez and Comptroller Peter Franchot with 32.4 percent of the vote.[3] If elected, he would become Maryland’s first Black governor.[69]

Political positions

During an interview with C-SPAN in August 2006, Moore self-identified as a fiscal conservative and social moderate.[70] During his gubernatorial campaign, Moore ran with a progressive lean.[71]

Crime and policing

In May 2022, Moore called on Governor Larry Hogan to target state resources toward preventing gun violence in Baltimore.[72] Moore says he “believes in policing with maximum accountability and appropriate intensity”,[73] and would provide funding for community-based violence intervention programs to address violent crime.[74]

Moore supports hiring more probation and parole officers, pursuing police misconduct allegations, and increasing resources for law enforcement agencies.[75]

Education

Moore supports the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future reform effort,[67][76] testifying before the state legislature to urge its passage.[77] During his campaign, he said that he would “work closely with local governments to make sure they are on board with their commitments to the Blueprint”.[78] He also said that he does not support the expansion of charter schools, but wants to ensure accountability for current charters and wants to focus on improving public school districts.[77]

Environment

During his campaign, Moore said he supported the renewable energy goals set by the state’s Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2019, which called for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an electrification of the state’s vehicle fleet by 2030, and has said the state should pursue “more ambitious goals” beyond carbon neutrality.[79] He has proposed regulations to achieve 100% clean energy use by 2035 and net zero carbon emissions by 2045, electrify the state’s fleet, and prioritize environmental-justice funding.[80] He also said that he would establish a “cap-and-invest” program in Maryland, which could tax polluters to provide revenue for clean energy infrastructure and relief in communities of color.[79] In April 2022, Moore signed a Chesapeake Climate Action Network pledge to support legislation to get Maryland to use 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035 and to remove trash incineration from the state’s “clean energy” classification.[81]

Housing

Moore supports the right to counsel in eviction cases, saying that providing tenants with access to counsel is “the just thing to do and it is the right thing to do”.[82][83]

Minimum wage

During his campaign, Moore said that he would accelerate the state’s incremental increase to a minimum wage of $15 an hour.[84]

Social issues

In June 2021, Moore opposed voter-ID legislation introduced by state Senator Justin Ready, calling it “voter suppression”.[85]

In July 2021, Moore opposed Governor Hogan’s decision to end expanded federal unemployment benefits provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 early.[86]

In June 2022, following the Supreme Court‘s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Moore said that he would support an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to enshrine abortion access.[87][88]

Transportation

Moore opposed Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line, and said during his campaign that he would support restarting the rail project.[89][90] He does not support Governor Hogan’s plan to widen portions of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 using high-occupancy toll lanes, saying that he would instead support a transit line alongside I-270 and a proposed transit line from Prince George’s County to Charles County.[79] Critics have accused Moore of flip-flopping on this stance after he told the Maryland Transit Opportunities that he would be willing to dedicate federal funds to the project, issuing a statement afterwards saying that he would be open to toll lanes if there were strong public consensus.[91] In a radio interview with WAMU in July 2022, Moore said he preferred a “new type of proposal” for the I-270 toll lanes plan that included reversible lanes, increase transit, and greater collaboration with local “stakeholders.”[92]

Personal life

Moore and his wife, Dawn (née Flythe), moved to the Riverside community in Baltimore in 2006.[47] The couple married on July 6, 2007.[93] The Moores moved out of their Riverside home by late 2008, purchasing a home for $1.2 million in the Guilford community in north Baltimore and keeping their Riverside home as a rental.[47] Together, they have two children, Mia (born 2011) and James (born 2014).[94]

Bibliography

  • The other Wes Moore : one name, two fates, New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2010. ISBN 9780385528191
  • The maker, North Carolina : Provectus Media, 2011.ISBN 9781450711135
  • Discovering Wes Moore : My Story, New York : Ember, 2013.ISBN 9780385741682
  • The work : searching for a life that matters, New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2015.ISBN 9780812983845
  • Wes Moore; Shawn Goodman, This way home, New York : Delacorte Press, 2015.ISBN 9780385741699
  • Wes Moore; Erica L Green, Five days : the fiery reckoning of an American city, New York : One World, 2020.ISBN 9780525512363

References

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External links

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