Jul 15, 2009

Former Howell HS teacher is one of the authors of new Freedom Writers Foundation book

The former Howell High School English Teacher who touched off a book banning crusade by the defunct anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education), in the fall of 2006 is one of the authors of the soon-to-be-released book, “The Freedom Writers Diary, The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide.”

Cathy Capy was using the inspirational book, “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them" by Erin Gruwell in her 10th grade advanced English course when the LOVE group raised a stink about alleged profanity. It launched a censorship campaign that also included a move to ban 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.” It was ultimately unsuccessful and led to the unmasking of what the group was really about, but before the crusade died it led to national embarrassment to the community and even an FBI investigation.

Gruwell’s book highlights her experiences 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 was portrayed by Academy Award-winning actress Hillary Swank in the movie based on the book..

The experience led to the Freedom Writers Foundation that promotes an educational philosophy that honors diversity in the classroom, and it gives students the opportunity to reach their full potential and aspire to higher education.

Capy, who now teaches at the Muskegon WayPoint Academy, participated in the foundation’s most recent project; the publication of the newest book, “Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writers Teachers.” The book is a compilation of diary entries, much like the original book that started the foundation.

The book is set to be officially released on August 18 to coincide with the release of “The Freedom Writers Diary: 10th Anniversary Edition,” but the book can be pre-ordered from Amazon.com, and the Foundation will receive a portion of the proceeds.

Capy is spending the summer promoting the book. Capy and her fellow Freedom Writer teachers will be traveling to Washington, D.C. in September to participate in the national book tour and to promote a social justice agenda and encourage Congress to adopt the Freedom Writers methods as part of educational "best practices.” She also plans to hold book signings in Livingston County and in the Grand Haven/Muskegon area where she currently teaches. Capy is trying to line up venues, but a book signing has been scheduled for 5:30-7:00 p.m. on August 19 at Barnes & Noble in Green Oak Township.

“I really appreciate any and all support you can give to this movement, as education is an issue that affects us all,” Capy said.

I can’t wait to get my signed copy.

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