Have you seen the movie Freedom Writers?
Based on true events, it tells the story of English teacher Erin Gruell in a recently-integrated high school where gang violence and racial conflict are a fact of life. Her classroom of at-risk students isn’t particularly interested in what she has to say.
Why should they be? Shakespeare and literary essays aren’t going to help them survive the next drive-by shooting.
Until she connects them with words and writing that do have meaning for them—stories with disturbing parallels to the hatred and racial tensions these kids deal with every day, such as The Diary of Anne Frank.
Gruell challenges her students to write their stories and, in the process, shows them that they are more alike than different.
All of them have lost friends and family in interracial conflicts.
All of them have been affected by gang violence.
All of them would give about anything to change their world.
I bring you this story today to inspire: the words we write and the stories we tell MATTER. Stories help people to understand in a way nothing else can. Stories can heal wounds, bridge gaps, and nurture tolerance.
This is why I write.
- To make sense of the world
- To spread light and hope
- To connect with others
- To show others they aren’t alone
- To explain
- To understand
Writing can be wonderful—but there are also times when writers feel lonely and discouraged. What keeps you writing?