Yesterday I learned that one of my favorite professors passed away moments after celebrating President Barack Obama’s election to a second term. His spirit will live on through everyone that knew him:
November 9, 2012
To the family of Dr. Gerian Steven Moore, and the faculty, staff, & students of Chicago State University:
“Life is a journey, along different paths, through many transitions, marked by an individual, but certain tempo.” – Anderson Franklin
Now and then, the world has a way of introducing people into our lives who unknowingly contribute to our evolution as consummate human beings. Less frequently, we cross paths with people who deliberately and unyieldingly stimulate our growth. Dr. Gerian Moore was one of those people.
When I began the fall 2012 semester, my final 16 weeks at Chicago State University, I envisioned it as the subtle conclusion to a long journey. I imagined that these last few courses would require minimal effort in comparison to every preceding endeavor. Within the first week of Dr. Moore’s class, it was very clear that this last leg would be anything but a smooth segue into December’s pomp & circumstance. You see Dr. Moore, in all of his audaciousness; he actually wanted me to work. Reading without understanding and, what he redundantly referred to as “rote memorization,” was simply not going to cut it. Dr. Moore would only be satisfied once we proved ourselves critically engaged and passionately moved by the material set before us. His style of teaching was a drastic deviation from lecturers I’d had before him and, though I initially found him to be arduous and polemic, I learned to appreciate his motives.
I began to look forward to his class more than any other. I don’t know whether it was his jubilant inquisitions about my time spent since our last meeting or the spirited debates we had about affirmative action and religion. Possibly it was his assertion of P. Diddy as a crooked “street urchin” or his belief that Monica Lewinsky had been relegated to a career of selling purses due to her “rebellion” against the federal government. I’m certain the enjoyment I felt was a fusion of all of these things but, most importantly, I relished in the fact that he challenged me every day. I admired his refusal to allow me, or anyone else in his presence, to settle for mediocrity.
Dr. Moore instilled in me a realization that we, as college students, are exceptional. Our discussions helped me to develop a philosophy that those who have “made it” (i.e. capitalized on opportunities they were blessed with) have to acknowledge that they are indeed exceptional. When they fail to do so they encourage a belief that everyone is afforded the same liberties and, as a consequence, are disinhibited from making any attempt to challenge the system. We must move beyond this “I did it, why can’t you?” mentality that places blame on the individual. Instead, we must adopt a mentality that says, “I did it, you can too.” and let our actions illustrate that belief.
More than any other teacher, quite possibly any other human being for that matter, Dr. Moore has challenged my mode of thinking and encouraged me to be exceedingly conscious of my position in the world. He vehemently professed that my journey was only in its first leg and, as sailor John Paul Jones once proclaimed, “ I have not yet begun to fight!” Professor Moore’s philosophy was that Chicago State was but a checkpoint, that the south side of Chicago was nothing more than a stepping-stone, and that the entire world is ours for the taking. We have not yet set foot on the road to discovery. Coming from a man that knew everything and had been everywhere, I dare question the validity in that declaration.
I must admit that I’ve been somewhat selfish in the writing of this message. Often, I find writing to be more cathartic than emotional expression. Of course I’m saddened by his untimely passing but, I cannot allow that sadness to overshadow the fact that I was made better in the short period I knew him. My intention was to pay at least a nominal amount of homage to a man that has so greatly influenced me in what seems to be such a trivial amount of time. Furthermore, I felt the need to remind others and myself of how instantly our lives can be changed. Just as Dr. Moore so fearlessly lived his, so must we make the most of the lives that we are given. It is our responsibility to set the tempo.
Dr. Moore would accept nothing less than greatness from us and I know without a doubt, without the slightest reservation that we are all greater – because of him.
Rest well, my friend.