FOCUS Summit Speakers  
Narada Comans

Narada ComansAt age 9, Narada Comans moved 3,000 miles away from his hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. His once suburban neighborhood turned into an urban nightmare. His father began to abuse drugs fueling the constant physical abuse against his mother and destroying the household he once knew.

At the age of 14, Narada again was forced to move due to circumstances beyond his control. The summer before his sophomore year at Wilson High School, he was evicted from his single household apartment due to his mom’s job loss. Too young to get a job and not willing to do anything illegal to get money, Narada felt defeated, helpless, and ashamed. With the start of 10th grade a few weeks away, he felt more compelled to keep the hardships of his summer a secret for fear of being made fun of by his peers.

However, soon he would discover his experience as a Freedom Writer allowed him to open up about the hardships of his life. Through the trust and guidance of Ms. Gruwell and his classmates, Narada would learn through activities such as the Line Game and journal writing, and as others began to share the hardships of their own lives, Narada no longer tried to keep his a secret. This began the bond between himself, his classmates, and Ms. Gruwell. The newfound support would allow Narada to finish high school and go on to college.

Today, Narada speaks about the difficulties of growing up in poverty, surrounded by gang violence, and the lack of a positive male role model in the household. Narada has shared his diary story for over 10 years now with the hope his story can help and inspire others dealing with their own hardships. Narada also contributed an additional diary entry to the 10th anniversary edition of The Freedom Writers Diary.

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