Mentors, friends, and guests honored 25 incarcerated journalists in training at San Quentin State Prison’s (SQ) annual Journalism Guild graduation.
Attendees included prison staff, Bay Area journalists, academics, and former editors of San Quentin News.
Fourteen graduated from the English guild and eleven from the Spanish language group. Graduates wore traditional caps and gowns.
Graduates Michael Callahan, Stuart Clarke, and Rahan Asaan received special recognition for outstanding participation.
High praise for journalism graduates
Warden Ron Broomfield said graduating from the Journalism Guild was a “powerful accomplishment.”
Keynote speaker Byrhonda Lyons is a video journalist for CalMatters.
“I got my spark back because of SQNews. The men of SQNews, like my grandmother, had no voice. Her life, like theirs, was not worthy of chronicling,” Lyons said.
Harvard professor Dr. Kaia Stern flew in from Boston to attend a guild graduation for the second time. “I come again because you all give me hope,” she said.
San Quentin psychologist Dr. K. Rosenberg said that SQNews helps create a sense of community. “The newsroom is an incredible community where very talented people have the courage to tell their own stories without victimizing others. They tell people’s stories who haven’t mattered before,” she said.
Long-time SQNews adviser John Eagan shared his joy in assisting the Guild. “Trust me; we are proud of what you do for the newspaper,” said Eagan.
Friends of the incarcerated graduates mingled while they shared Subway sandwiches, chips, and soda with their loved ones after the ceremony.
“My challenge to you is write as much as possible and sharpen the tool. If you are writing for the public, write with integrity as your words will have a powerful impact. No matter what you write keep your integrity so you can sleep well at night,” said Broomfield.
Submitted by SQ Journalism Guild