Beyond the historical significance of their name choice, the Freedom Writers are metaphorically associating their diaries with the personal freedom the act of writing brought them. In many ways, the name originates in irony—it is the reading of the Diary of Anne Frank, a story of captivity, that instigates their own project of diaries. For the students, though—just like for Anne—writing is a way to escape the personal captivities they each face, whether from violence, poverty, or racism.
One diarist writes, "I want to write his story so others will know his death was not in vain." Writing becomes a way of dealing with loss and an outlet for stories that need to be told. The students use the written word to tell the stories of their families and their neighborhoods, freeing themselves from some of the hatred that had dominated their life. The freedom to do this comes from the anonymous nature of the journals. Anonymity freed them to be honest about their lives, and their honesty helped them to connect to their classmates. Students who once were warring with one another could begin to see the similarities they shared.
It would be easy to become a victim of our circumstances and continue feeling sad, scared or angry; or instead, we could choose to deal with injustice humanely and break the chains of negative thoughts and energies, and not let ourselves sink into it.
The writing, the process of letting go, did provide some literal freedom for Gruwell's students, who gained recognition for their work. Additionally, all one hundred and fifty writers graduated from high school.