Mar 13, 2007

Target of anti-gay hate group’s censorship campaign to appear in Michigan

Best-selling author and inspirational teacher Erin Gruwell will be appearing nearby at the Flint Public Library tomorrow (Wednesday) to talk to area students about her book, “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.”

Gruwell began teaching at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif. that was plagued with gang and racial violence, and she found herself trying to educate students whom many deemed "unteachable." Gruwell encouraged the students to become critical thinkers by reading such books as "The Diary of Anne Frank." Through poignant student entries and Erin’s narrative text, the book chronicles their “eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.” Gruwell is being portrayed by Academy Award-winning actress Hillary Swank in the movie based on the book that’s playing in area theatres.

Gruwell will speak at the library three times during the day. She will host a reservation only teen author program at 10 a.m., and she will talk about her book, censorship and freedom of speech at 4 p.m. A meet-the-author session is set for 7 p.m., during which time Gruwell's books will be available for purchase and signing.

Here in Howell, the inspirational book was briefly banned from Howell Public School’s advanced 10th grade English class because of alleged profanity and references to drugs and sex acts. The censorship quest was driven by anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education), and the campaign also saw the group try to ban and censor Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five.”

The five-month censorship quest saw some bizarre twists that included the FBI looking for dirty words, and “love” claming teachers, bus drivers, the lunch lady and the janitor were pornographers. Cooler and saner heads finally prevailed, and the embarrassing episode was just put to bed last week. However, “love” is still out there.

Over on Daily KOS, they are reporting “love” and other small-minded censors plan on being there to disrupt Gruwell. I don’t know where that information is coming from or if it’s true, but I urge all people who love books, detest censorship, care about kids and care about education take the approximately 40 mile drive up U.S. 23 and I-75 to show your support. At the very least you can purchase a copy of the book and have her sign it.

The main Flint Library is located at 1026 E. Kearsley St.

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