To celebrate Black History Month and to honor the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Ride, the Freedom Writer Foundation asked me share what it means to be a Freedom Writer now. Here is my letter:
I had been taught that people fought and died for my freedom and, if the time came, I should do the same. I was taught through the examples of the Freedom Riders, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, John Lewis, and the Little Rock Nine, that it takes but a spark of action to make a change. I was keenly aware that the freedom I enjoyed and the opportunities I had access to would not have been available to me if not for these brave people becoming such catalysts.
This year, the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Riders, I reflect on my Freedom Writer journey, the inspiration of the Freedom Riders and the opportunity given to me by Ms. G to become part of a movement for diversity awareness and educational equality. This was my chance to follow in the footsteps of great leaders who refused to cower in the face of injustice. I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time or how much hard work such an undertaking would require, including putting my heart, time and energy where my mouth and idealism were. In the end, I gained so much more than I could ever have given.
I have published a book, traveled the world, earned awards and trained teachers. On top of all this, when I thought it was over, it was the full scholarship from the Freedom Writers Foundation that enabled me to be the first in my family to graduate from college. I don’t know what my life would be like had I not been given the Freedom Writers Scholarship. What I do know is that it provided me with a foundation for success.
The Freedom Writers Foundation still awards scholarships to students and provides teacher training through the Freedom Writers Institute. Educators are in a prime position for planting the seed of change in students. Through the Freedom Writers Institute, Ms. G and the Freedom Writers work to give teachers the tools they need, not only to plant the seed, but nourish it as well. You see, while the Freedom Writers were inspired by our namesake the Freedom Riders, it was Ms. G who gave us the tools and opportunity to become change agents ourselves.
You don’t have to be a teacher or work in a classroom to make a difference in the classroom. By making a donation to the Freedom Writers Foundation, you can help the Foundation continue making dreams come true with college scholarships and giving teachers the training they need to close the educational gap one classroom at a time.
Thank you for your support.