High school student authors story in ‘Dear Freedom Writer’ book

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 19, 2022

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LAPLACE — LaPlace native Jada Brown was among 50 students across the globe handpicked by Freedom Writer Teachers to lend a voice in the creation of the upcoming book, “DEAR FREEDOM WRITER: Stories of Hardship and Hope from the Next Generation.”

More than 20 years ago, millions of readers were introduced to the Freedom Writers and teacher Erin Gruwell. Their stories, featured in the #1 New York Times bestseller THE FREEDOM WRITER’S DIARY, captured the hearts of readers everywhere and later became a major motion picture, FREEDOM WRITERS. What began in Room 203 in 1994 with a first-time teacher and 150 “unteachable” high schoolers, would go on to build a lifelong community of students and educators working together, driven by the purpose of innovative learning.

In DEAR FREEDOM WRITER: Stories of Hardship and Hope from the Next Generation, their legacy continues as readers are introduced to a new league of Freedom Writers—50 students from around the globe—sharing deeply personal and powerful stories in letters addressed to the original Freedom Writers and dedicated Freedom Writer Teachers.

In these 50 letters and their corresponding replies, the Freedom Writers and Freedom Writer Teachers address issues that span generations and still impact young people today, such as struggles with abuse, racism, discrimination, poverty, incarceration, teen parenthood, mental health, self-harm, imposed borders, LGBTQIA+ identity and police violence. DEAR FREEDOM WRITER brings together different voices to share experiences of grief, pain, triumph, healing and solidarity, with each story so bravely written that it demands the reader’s attention.

Hand in hand, original Freedom Writers and Freedom Writer Teachers answer each letter with a message of compassion, understanding and profound advice as someone of similar plight, but who has come out on the other side. For the reader, the result is an intensely poignant experience of witnessing these young authors bare their truths to a mentor, friend, liberator, and in some ways, their future selves.

Since April of last year, Brown has collaborated with the Freedom Writers Family to share her story.

“It’s really growth inspiring. I didn’t realize that other people had been through the same things I have been through. That’s the healing part,” Brown said.

After the devastation of Hurricane Ida, Brown needs the community’s help to attend an upcoming book launch with her fellow student authors and original Freedom Writer respondents. A GoFundme for travel expenses has been set up at gofundme.com/f/help-a-student-author-get-to-her-book-launch

Brown compared the opportunity to attending a family reunion.

“I get to meet the people that I wrote the book with. I get to meet the people I have been meeting on Zoom calls and texting every week. I’ve been meeting with them virtually for so long, for over a year now. I guess it’s like getting to meet my family members,” Brown said.