The Freedom Writers Diary

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER & NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

Shocked by the teenage violence she witnessed during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Erin Gruwell became a teacher at a high school rampant with hostility and racial intolerance. For many of these students–whose ranks included substance abusers, gang members, the homeless, and victims of abuse–Gruwell was the first person to treat them with dignity, to believe in their potential and help them see it themselves.

Soon, their loyalty towards their teacher and burning enthusiasm to help end violence and intolerance became a force of its own. Inspired by reading The Diary of Anne Frank and meeting Zlata Filipovic (the eleven-year old girl who wrote of her life in Sarajevo during the civil war), the students began a joint diary of their inner-city upbringings.

Told through anonymous entries to protect their identities and allow for complete candor, The Freedom Writers Diary is filled with astounding vignettes from 150 students who, like civil rights activist Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders, heard society tell them where to go–and refused to listen.

Proceeds from this book benefit the Freedom Writers Foundation, an organization set up to provide scholarships for underprivieged youth and to train teachers.
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About the author

ERIN GRUWELL, the Freedom Writers, and her nonprofit organization have received many awards,  including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award, and have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Prime Time Live, Good Morning America, and The View, to name a few. All 150 Freedom Writers went on to graduate from Wilson High. She lives in Long Beach, California.
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4.5
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Additional Information

Publisher
Broadway Books
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Published on
Apr 24, 2007
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780767928335
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Educators
Education / Philosophy, Theory & Social Aspects
Social Science / Minority Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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California is a state of immense contradictions.  Home to colossal wealth and long portrayed as a bastion of opportunity, it also has one of the largest prison populations in the United States and consistently ranks on the bottom of education indexes. Taking a unique, multifaceted insider’s perspective, First Strike delves into the root causes of its ever-expansive prison system and disastrous educational policy. 

Recentering analysis of Black masculinity beyond public rhetoric, First Strike critiques the trope of the “school-to-prison pipeline” and instead explores the realm of public school as a form of  “enclosure” that has influenced the schooling (and denial of schooling) and imprisonment of Black people in California. Through a fascinating ethnography of a public school in Los Angeles County, and a “day in the life tour” of the effect of prisons on the education of Black youth, Damien M. Sojoyner looks at the contestation over education in the Black community from Reconstruction to the civil rights and Black liberation movements of the past three decades. 

Policy makers, school districts, and local governments have long known that there is a relationship between high incarceration rates and school failure. First Strike is the first book that demonstrates why that connection exists and shows how school districts, cities and states have been complicit and can reverse a disturbing and needless trend. Rather than rely upon state-sponsored ideological or policy-driven models that do nothing more than to maintain structures of hierarchal domination, it allows us to resituate our framework of understanding and begin looking for solutions in spaces that are readily available and are immersed in radically democratic social visions of the future. 

“There are lives lost in this book, and there are lives saved, too, if salvation means a young man or woman begins to feel deserving of a place on the planet. . . . What could be more soul-satisfying? These are the most influential professionals most of us will ever meet. The effects of their work will last forever.”  –from the foreword by Anna Quindlen

Now depicted in a bestselling book and a feature film, the Freedom Writers phenomenon came about in 1994 when Erin Gruwell stepped into Room 203 and began her first teaching job out of college. Long Beach, California, was still reeling from the deadly violence that erupted during the Rodney King riots, and the kids in Erin’s classroom reflected the anger, resentment, and hopelessness of their community. Undaunted, Erin fostered an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, tolerance, and communication, and in the process, she transformed her students’ lives, as well as her own. Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers went on to establish the Freedom Writers Foundation to replicate the success of Room 203 and provide all students with hope and opportunities to realize their academic potential. Since then, the foundation has trained more than 150 teachers in the United States and Canada. Teaching Hope unites the voices of these Freedom Writer teachers, who share uplifting, devastating, and poignant stories from their classrooms, stories that provide insight into the struggles and triumphs of education in all of its forms.

Mirroring an academic year, these dispatches from the front lines of education take us from the anticipation of the first day to the disillusionment, challenges, and triumphs of the school year. These are the voices of teachers who persevere in the face of intolerance, rigid administration, and countless other challenges, and continue to reach out and teach those who are deemed unteachable. Their stories inspire everyone to make a difference in the world around them.
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