Freedom Writers

Synopsis: It's 1994 in Long Beach, California. Idealistic Erin Gruwell is just starting her first teaching job, that as freshman and sophomore English teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, which, two years earlier, implemented a voluntary integration program. For many of the existing teachers, the integration has ruined the school, whose previously stellar academic standing has been replaced with many students who will be lucky to graduate or even be literate. Despite choosing the school on purpose because of its integration program, Erin is unprepared for the nature of her classroom, whose students live by generations of strict moral codes of protecting their own at all cost. Many are in gangs and almost all know somebody that has been killed by gang violence. The Latinos hate the Cambodians who hate the blacks and so on. The only person the students hate more is Ms. Gruwell. It isn't until Erin holds an unsanctioned discussion about a recent drive-by shooting death that she fully begins to un
Director(s): Richard LaGravenese
Production: Paramount Pictures
  2 wins & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
123 min

There have been shots fired.

Total civil unrest is happening

throughout the Los Angeles area.

Dozens of police

are running down the streets.

Dozens of police

are running down the streets.

Smoke reigned over the entire city.

We're telling anybody

who's in downtown South Central...

There are 38 dead and more than...

The EMT are having

a hard time getting in...

...where truck driver Reginald Denny

was pulled from his vehicle...

The city resembles a war zone.

Crowds gathered

at Parker Center downtown. in Hollywood, where

looters have struck many businesses.

There have been 3,600 structural fires.

Thick, black smoke rising

from the countless fires

in Hollywood, downtown, Compton,

Watts and Long Beach...

In America,

a girl can be crowned a princess

for her beauty and her grace.

But an Aztec princess

is chosen for her blood...

Eva? fight for her people,

as Papi and his father fought

against those who say

we are less than they are,

who say we are not equal in beauty

and in blessings.

It was the first day of school,

and I was waiting for my father

to take me to the bus.



And I saw the war for the first time.

Eva! Eva!

Police! Open up!

They took my father for retaliation.

He was innocent, but they took him,

because he was respected

by my people.

They called my people a gang

because we fight for our America.

On your feet!

When I got my initiation

into the gang life,

I became third generation.

They beat you so you won't break.

They are my family.

In Long Beach, it all comes down

to what you look like.

If you're Latino or Asian or black,

you could get blasted any time

you walk out your door.

We fight each other for territory.

We kill each other over race,

pride and respect.

We fight for what is ours.

They think they're winning

by jumping me now,

but soon they're all going down.

War has been declared.

- Here's your coffee.

- Thank you.

I brought my lesson plans.

I'd love it if you'd look them over.

Yes, and these are the classes

you'll start with.

Freshman English, four classes,

about 150 students in all.

Some of them

are just out of juvenile hall.

One or two might be wearing ankle cuffs

to monitor their whereabouts.

And you see here,

we'll have to revise your lesson plans.

And if you look at their scores,

these vocabulary lists

and some of these, the books,

Homer's The Odyssey,

they're gonna be too difficult for them.

All right.

Also, for most of them to get here

it takes three buses,

almost 90 minutes each way.

My God.

So I wouldn't give them too much

of a homework load.

You'll just be wasting a lot of time

following up on overdue work.

All right. Thank you.

- You're from Newport Beach?

- Yes.

It's too bad you weren't here

even two years ago, you know.

We used to have one of the highest

scholastic records in the district,

but since voluntary integration

was suggested,

we've lost over 75/

of our strongest students.

Well, actually, I chose Wilson

because of the integration program.

I think what's happening here

is really exciting, don't you?

My father was involved

in the civil rights movement.

And I remember when I was watching

the LA riots on TV,

I was thinking of going

to law school at the time.

And I thought, "God, by the time

"you're defending a kid in a courtroom,

the battle's already lost. "

I think the real fighting

should happen here in the classroom.

Well, that's a very

well-thought-out phrase.


I think you're a lovely, intelligent woman.

But you're a first-time teacher.

As head of this department,

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Richard LaGravenese

Richard LaGravenese (born October 30, 1959) is an American screenwriter and film director, best known as the writer of The Fisher King. more…

All Richard LaGravenese scripts | Richard LaGravenese Scripts

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Freedom Writers" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 18 Sep. 2021. <>.

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