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Coming up on Connections: Thursday, November 17, 2022

First hour: Erin Gruwell, teacher, and co-author of "The Freedom Writers Diary" and "Dear Freedom Writer"

Second hour: Rev. Lewis Stewart and colleagues discuss Stewart's legacy in the community

In 1994, a first-year English teacher in California walked into a classroom of students who were described as "unteachable." Erin Gruwell and her students not only proved the critics wrong, but they changed lives in the process. Gruwell and her students have become known around the world for their Freedom Writers project. It all began when Gruwell encouraged the high school freshmen to read Anne Frank's diary and to write about their challenges in the way that Frank did. Their essays about homelessness, racism, violence, and more led to a book, a foundation, a major motion picture, and perhaps most importantly, hope. The Freedom Writers embarked on a second project to help the next generation of students benefit from their process. It has resulted in a book entitled "Dear Freedom Writer." Gruwell will be a guest of the University of Rochester Thursday night to discuss the power of the pen, but first, she joins us on Connections. Our guest:

  • Erin Gruwell, teacher, and co-author of "The Freedom Writers Diary" and "Dear Freedom Writer"

Then in our second hour, community leader and United Christian Leadership Ministry founder and president Revered Lewis Stewart is retiring. Stewart's remarkable work in Rochester has led to policy changes related to criminal justice, relationship-building among groups, and a push for peace at a time when the city has seen stretches of violence. Stewart will be honored at a UCLM event Thursday night, but first, he joins us on Connections with his colleagues to discuss his work and legacy in the community. Our guests:

  • Rev. Lewis Stewart, founder and retiring president of United Christian Leadership Ministry
  • Rev. Dwight Fowler, incoming president of United Christian Leadership Ministry, and pastor at the First Church of God on Clarissa Street
  • Rev. Marilyn Cunningham, senior pastor at Graves Memorial CME Church
  • Lentory Johnson, member of United Christian Leadership Ministry, president of Generational Engagement Matters, and chairperson of the Light the Way Ministry at United Christian Leadership Ministry
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.