I was channel surfing recently and came across the movie The Freedom Writers. For those that do not know, the movie is based upon the real life story of Erin Gruwell who is played by Hillary Swank. Gruwell goes to teach in an inner-city school and encounters at-risk students who are limited by their social economic status and divided by race while struggling to survive. In her quest to understand her students and their unique individual stories, she develops an unorthodox teaching method that involved the use of writing as an outlet to produce change in themselves and their environment.
I remember sitting in class and a professor that I adored because of his passion for teaching and him working hard to instill that same passion in us, informed the class that we would be watching a documentary based upon the true-life story of Erin Gruwell and The Freedom Writers. At that time, the movie had not been released, however had been gaining a lot of momentum and publicity in anticipation of its upcoming release.
The documentary went more in depth into the lives of The Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell, the teacher that inspired them to write. I remember sitting in class and not being able to contain my emotion. To be honest, there was no dry eye in the room. You may ask, why was I weeping? Well, it was because I love to write and understand how powerful writing can be for the writer. In addition, I had never been through what those teens endured, but I could still identify and feel their desperation, pain, passion and perseverance to survive…bleeding through! It was a while later after watching the documentary before The Freedom Writers came out in theaters, but I still remember being moved to tears in the same way. This is a must see for those who love writing and words as much as I do and are additionally looking for a movie to inspire themselves and/or their students.
The writing that came from these students produced a publication called The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens used writing to change themselves and the World Around Them (1999). The proceeds of the book go to The Freedom Writers Foundation that seeks to change the educational system one classroom at a time by providing educators with transformative tools to engage, enlighten and empower at-risk students to their full potential (http://www.freedomwritersfoundation.org). What a powerful mission!
I do not want to give all the details because I want each of you to read, see and hear for yourself. I have included clips in the “Speak Your Piece” (in the upward right corner) section highlighting The Freedom Writers movie and other related clips. Please click on the link above for additional information in relation to the Freedom Writers Foundation and leave your comments below. Enjoy!