Eddie Mo '20 (seen here third from left) won the 2018 Common Wealth Award Writing Contest for his essay on Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. As part of his prize, he was invited to attend the Common Wealth Awards Ceremony in late April, where he met Dr. Gates (seen here third from right) in person.
The Common Wealth Awards of Distinguished Service were founded in 1979 by Delaware businessman and philanthropist Ralph Hayes, and recognize achievements in dramatic arts, literature, science, invention, mass communications, public service, government and sociology. Winners receive a $50,000 prize and attend an annual gala at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington. In conjunction with the Awards, the Common Wealth Trust holds an essay-writing contest for Delaware high school students.
Gates is a renowned literary critic and documentarian, and is Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. In his essay, Eddie shared the ways in which Dr. Gates has inspired him as a student at St. Andrew's. "I see Gates' documentaries, such as The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, as inspiring examples of the cultural documentation that I think is paramount in an age of hyperconnectivity, when the preservation of cultural identity is more important than ever," Eddie wrote in his essay. "In the future, I want to follow in Gates' example and work on the conservation of cultural heritage in America and worldwide." (Former Vice President Joe Biden and historic biographer Ron Chernow were also recognized with 2018 Common Wealth Awards.)
"Dr. Gates, who has received 53 honorary degrees and written over a dozen books, possesses the extraordinary capacity to connect with people as equals and as friends, even in a short amount of time," Eddie reflected after the gala. "After meeting and conversing with him at the ceremony, he exceeded my expectations in every respect. I was very surprised to find that Dr. Gates was as interested in my dreams and perspective as I was in his. We discussed our common interest in film and talked about his stint in boarding school. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to meet such an interesting and inspiring person of such character."