Wes Moore, a bestselling author and Johns Hopkins University alum, will be the guest speaker at that university’s School of Education commencement in May, officials said April 17.

Moore replaces Ben Carson, the world-renown neurosurgeon who recently came under heavy criticism for his controversial statements on same-sex marriage.

Carson stepped down from his commencement duties for the schools of education and medicine on April 10, saying he did not want the controversies swirling around him to overshadow the ceremonies, according to The Baltimore Sun.

In the months leading up to his planned retirement in June, the respected medical pioneer has become bolder in expressing his political views. In February, he created a dust-up at the nonpartisan National Prayer Breakfast when he went off-script and baldly denounced President Obama’s health care reform.

But he has drawn even more censure for his statements on same-sex marriage during a recent appearance on Fox News.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” Carson told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”

Carson’s grouping together of homosexuals with the North American Man/Boy Love Association, a pedophile advocacy group, and people who engage in sex with animals prompted a public slap on the wrist from Johns Hopkins’ CEO Paul B. Rothman and caused students to ask for his replacement as commencement speaker.

“Tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used by our colleague, Dr. Ben Carson, when conveying a personal opinion,” Rothman said in a statement posted online. And those comments, he added, “are inconsistent with the culture of our institution.”

In a letter of apology, Carson said while he still opposes homosexuality, he was sorry for the language that he used.

“I am sorry for any embarrassment this has caused,” he wrote, according to the Sun. “But what really saddens me is that my poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community, and for that I offer a most sincere and heartfelt apology.”

“Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point,” he added. “I hope all will look at a lifetime of service over some poorly chosen words.”

Though a less divisive figure than Carson, Moore’s background mirrors that of the famous doctor’s in several ways.

He and his sisters were raised by a widowed mother in Baltimore. Moore also experienced early academic and behavioral struggles, which he eventually overcame to graduate as a commissioned officer from Valley Forge Military College in 1998, and in 2001 from Johns Hopkins, where he played football and earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations. Moore was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and went on to study international relations at Oxford University in England.

Upon graduation, the paratrooper and Army captain completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He later served as a White House fellow to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Moore received national acclaim as the author of “The Other Wes Moore,” which was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, and he is a television host and news contributor.

Moore also founded an organization called STAND! that works with Baltimore youth involved in the criminal justice system.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO