Check out this video on YouTube:
Are the diary entries read in the movie authentic?
Yes. The diary entries read in the movie were taken verbatim from the book, The Freedom Writers Diary, which is a compilation of the original diary entries written by Gruwell’s students.
How did Erin and her students come up with the name Freedom Writers?
The name is a pun on the term ‘Freedom Riders’, the title given to the mostly African American and white college students, who in 1961 rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test newly formed civil rights laws. These new laws outlawed racial segregation in interstate transportation facilities, including bus stations and railroad terminals.
What does the real Erin Gruwell do today?
After teaching high school from 1993 to 1998 and earning her Master’s Degree from California State University at Long Beach, Erin Gruwell became a professor at the same University, teaching in the Liberal Arts and Education Departments. Erin got a publishing deal with Main Street Books for all 150 of her former Wilson High students. Their diaries were compiled into a single book titled “The Freedom Writers Diary”, which was published in October of 1999. The book has sold a quarter of a million copies and counting. Erin and her Freedom Writers have gained national attention, appearing on Oprah, Primetime Live, Good Morning America, and the View. She founded the nonprofit organization The Freedom Writers Foundation, which functions to promote Erin’s successful teaching methods. As a result of her dedication to her students and teaching, Erin was given the Spirit of Anne Frank Award. In 2000, she ran for Congress in District 38, but did not win. In the time since, she has stopped teaching in order to devote all of her energy to The Freedom Writers Foundation. The original Freedom Writers also work with Erin and together they have given over 1,000 presentations across 45 states, talking both to teachers and to students. Erin recently completed her memoir “Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers”, which was published around the time of the film’s release.
What happened to the original Freedom Writers?
Every one of Erin’s 150 students graduated from high school and most went on to college. A lot of them were able to obtain scholarships to help get themselves through school. Some used their profits from “The Freedom Writers Diary” book sales to help pay for college. After college, they entered various professions, including the education system. (The student who is falsely accused of murder in the film became a high school teacher in real life.) Today, they are all part of The Freedom Writers Foundation. Several of them, including Maria Reyes, have traveled around the country speaking about their story. Reyes’s counterpart in the film is Eva (April L. Hernandez), one of the central characters who ends up testifying against members of her own gang. As a result of their dedication to the Foundation, they see a lot of each other and their former mentor. Some of them even work like Erin does to help train the teachers.
Did Erin Gruwell really work two part-time jobs so that she could buy her students books?
This is partially true. Erin actually started at Wilson High as a student teacher and was not paid. To make matters worse, as a student teacher Erin still had to pay tuition to the California State University at Long Beach. She initially took the two part-time jobs to help pay the semester’s tuition. As depicted in the film, she worked part-time at a Nordstrom department store in the lingerie section and at a Marriot Hotel as a concierge. She did use some of this money to buy her students books, including copies of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.
Sent from my iPad