This Facebook post was published by author Wes Moore as word spread that a high school student who reached out to him was another fatality of the violence that has swept Baltimore in recent weeks. Police said a homicide victim was found inside a burning building in Northeast Baltimore on Sunday morning. The body was later identified as that of 16-year-old Arnesha Bowers.
Today was one of those days that you simply aren’t sure how to properly process your emotions.
The day started with the unbelievable high of watching the first cohort of BridgeEdU scholars complete their culmination ceremony. We created BridgeEdu because we believe there is a better way to do the on-ramp to higher education and to see these scholars make it through, confident and prepared to tackle anything in front of them is inspiring.
My chest inflated with pride as our scholars received their certificates, all with acceptance letters to fantastic four-year schools in hand.
Then my afternoon happened. That’s when a friend of mine asked me if I knew Arnesha Bowers.
Arnesha was a junior at City College and a remarkable young woman who months ago reached out to me to tell me her English class read my book and she was inspired by it.
Her note was beautiful, impassioned and touching. She asked if I would be willing to visit her class, and I responded I would love to.
Weeks later I was honored to have Arnesha introduce me to her classmates. Her smile could light up a room. And it did. I had a great time and stayed in touch with her. When you meet a special person you know it, and she was special.
“Saying this is a needless tragedy feels insufficient. It feels obvious. Saying ‘never again’ feels trite. Maybe I am just sorry. . . Sorry that for too many we will return to business as usual.”
However, today, when my friend asked me if I knew her, I responded yes energetically and she told me that Arnesha was killed. Murdered and her house set on fire in an attempt to cover up the evidence.
I was at a loss for words. What words work in a moment like that? I have spent the past hours in disbelief, then bitterly angry, then heartbroken. Her future was needlessly snuffed out, and so was the future of our community.
My heart breaks for her family, her friends, her principal, her teachers, our community. Saying this is a needless tragedy feels insufficient. It feels obvious. Saying “never again” feels trite.
Maybe I am just sorry. Sorry for the violent way her young life was taken out. Sorry for the loved ones who now mourn her absence. Sorry for our community who will miss her promise. Sorry that for too many we will return to business as usual without understanding how her death impacts our lives.
So today is one of the more emotional I have had in a while. Proud for our scholars who are seeing their promise and heartbroken for one who had hers taken by someone else.
This post was republished with the permission of Wes Moore, a Baltimore native and author of the bestseller, The Other Wes Moore.