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Author goes beyond summer reading

By Leigha Stuiso
Social Media Editor

Author and activist Darnell Moore came to Kendall Hall on Sept. 4 to speak about his life story and recent book, “No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black And Free in America,” for this year’s Community Learning Day at the College. 

Moore discusses his life and inspiration for his memoir (Jennifer Somers / Photo Editor).

His book was selected for the incoming freshman class of 2023 to read over the summer as a part of the College’s Cultural and Intellectual Community Council theme, #ClimateMatters: Listening, Reflecting, and Acting.

“There’s a lot of (Educational Opportunity Fund) kids and people of all races here, so it’s important for everyone to feel like they’re welcome,” said Shannon Retkwa, a freshman elementary education and English dual major. 

Moore came in with a positive spirit and was able to joke around, even after the 20-hour flight he took the previous night from India to New Jersey, his home state. 

In the packed auditorium, Moore spoke to students, staff and faculty about his life and how he came to terms with himself while owning his identity as a gay black man, which ultimately led to him writing his memoir.

“Thank you all for showing up with minds open and hearts open,” Moore said, as he addressed the crowd.

He had three lessons he believed everyone should live by to become better people. He described these lessons as radical love, truth and windows.

Radical love was about practicing genuine love — the type that he had growing up with his own family packed inside of his small home.

“No one in this family is to be disregarded … the home was packed because disposability was not an option,” Moore said about his family living situations. 

The second lesson was truth, but Moore emphasized the fact that not everything people are taught is right, just or true. 

He pointed out that individuals are told ideas about gender, race and sexuality that may not be necessarily true. People may have strong opinions and act as if their ideas are factual, but they are not always being truthful or just. 

Moore then emphasized the third lesson — windows — to stress the importance of lookout outward, beyond oneself.

“We need windows as much as we need mirrors,” he said. 

All of the messages pertained to the theme of being accepting and open to the differences people have, which is a path that leads to understanding both others and oneself.

Moore experienced bullying while he was growing up, including a time when a group of boys assaulted him and doused him in gasoline in an attempt to light him on fire. Moore’s presentation above him posed the question, “why do we attempt to destroy that which we don’t understand?”

He described differences between individuals as being sources of magic — something that should not be discarded and treated like poison. He insisted that they should be showcased because everyone would just be the same if no one was different. 

“I would never want to be anyone other than myself — all of myself,” Moore said. “Every aspect of my identity adds value to the world.”


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