This student feels that learning about Black History has given him a purpose in life. When he learns about the Freedom Riders, an integrated group of activists—six white, seven black—who fought against segregated buses in the American South, he feels inspired by the white man who stepped off the bus first in front of an angry mob of KKK members, ready to sacrifice his life in the name of this noble cause.
This student realizes that history can provide a model for ideal behavior, inspiring people in the present to trust that their actions can have positive consequences. It also demonstrates that, despite strong racial tensions and injustice, people of both races can unite for a common goal: equality for all.
As the only white student in Ms. Gruwell’s class at the beginning, this student feels that he, too, has involuntarily stood up for tolerance. While he recalls feeling scared by the racial divisions at school, he has now become a staunch supporter of integration at school, trusting in the power of relationships across racial and ethnic lines. After learning about the story of the Freedom Riders, the class decides to call themselves the “Freedom Writers,” using this historic name to promote their fight against injustice and intolerance. Inspired by history, this student commits to this cause, trusting that he is not alone.
This student realizes that committing to a greater cause can happen slowly and naturally, as becoming personally acquainted with members of another race or ethnic group transforms an elevated ideal (e.g., equality across racial lines) into a more personal desire (e.g., for one’s friends to feel safe and respected). The class demonstrates its unity and solidarity by adopting a common name, allowing everyone to work together toward a noble cause.