The Cerro Author program began at Bakersfield College with its first visiting writer, Luis Rodriguez, in 2007.
Made possible by a generous bequest by Delores Cerro, a local citizen who believed in the power of libraries to shape students’ lives, the Cerro Author program brings a prominent writer to the Bakersfield College campus each year.
Students, faculty, staff, and community members have an opportunity to hear the author speak about the creation of and themes within the writer’s works. Audience members are able to hear firsthand about both the challenges and rewards of the writing process from the vantage point of a professional author.
One day Gruwell intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature, and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Jewish Holocaust - only to be met by uncomprehending looks. So she and her students, using the treasured books Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo as their guides, undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding. They learned to see the parallels between these books and their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the "Freedom Writers" in homage to the civil rights activists "The Freedom Riders". With powerful entries from the students' own diaries and a narrative text by Erin Gruwell, the Freedom Writers Diary is an uplifting, unforgettable example of how hard work, courage, and the spirit of determination changed the lives of a teacher and her students.
Erin Gruwell is a teacher, education activist, and the founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. She created the Freedom Writer Methods, a progressive teaching philosophy and curricula designed to achieve excellence from all students.
By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, Gruwell transformed her students' lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider their own daily decisions, ultimately re-chart their future. Through poignant student entries and her narrative text, the book records their "eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding." Their inspiring story of success is also chronicled in the documentary, Freedom Writers: Stories from an Undeclared War, which features behind the scenes footage of Gruwell and the Freedom Writers from their freshman year to present day.