April 28, 2011
The Write to Freedom
The Freedom Writers are students led by 23-year-old English teacher Erin Gruwell who chose to do something memorable after reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo. The students were inspired to write their own diary, chronicling their growth and fighting stereotypes. It is powerful.
It all began in Room 203 at Wilson High School. I love how it glorifies the power of journaling. It begins with a diary entry of Ms. Gruwell. It is freshman year fall 1994 and her journey as an English teacher begins. Wilson High School is made up of majority African American, Latino, and Asian students. Contrary to the stereotype of Long Beach, or LBC as rapper Snoop Dogg calls the area, the school is actually located in a safe neighborhood by the ocean.
Each freshman developed their own diary entry and contributed to reading, editing and encouraging one another. Their life experiences are blunt, open, and shared fully. It's important to note Ms. Gruwell's class was full of teens considered to be "at risk" with little to no ability to read and write.
Through the anonymous diary entries, we can see the students' growth. We can see their confidence boost and earned trust toward Ms. Gruwell. If you've seen the movie, then you understand The Freedom Writers journey. If not, where have you been?! Watch the movie trailer below starring Hilary Swank.
Title: The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them
Author: The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell
Published: October 1999