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UC Davis Program to Lead Healing Workshop for Black Youth Tonight

By Julia Ann Easley on March 30, 2018 in University


Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS), a critical literacy program at UC Davis, will lead an intensive writing workshop for youth as part of a larger healing event for Black youth in the wake of the death of Stephon Clark. Hundreds of youth are expected to participate in the "Words as Weapons" workshop.

Media are welcome to attend, and Vajra Watson, founder of SAYS and director of research and policy for equity at UC Davis, is available for interviews before or at the event.


Friday, March 30, 5:30 to 8 p.m.


South Sacramento Christian Church, 7710 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento


With their bold "spittin'," SAYS participants command audiences from school assemblies to major conferences and poetry slam competitions. But the program, now in its 10th year, also does its work in classrooms, after-school programs, a juvenile detention facility and other settings to help at-risk youth find their voices, meet some heavy life challenges and pursue education.

About 10 poet mentors from SAYS will lead the writing workshop. 

"We want to support young people to express themselves through the pen as a tool to transform the world," said Vajra Watson, founder of SAYS and director of research and policy for equity at UC Davis,

Watson said SAYS was asked to hold the workshop because stakeholders had attended the annual SAYS Summit College Day at UC Davis and experienced the writing workshop held for 1,000 students. "They thought our pedagogy and curriculum could support youth voice and healing in Sacramento," Watson added.

"Poetry is a medium for telling the truth; poetry reaches for maximum impact with minimal words; and, most importantly, poetry is the highest art and most exacting service devoted to our most imaginative deployment of verbs and nouns on behalf of whatever and whoever we cherish," Watson said.

"Young people are discovering their power," she added. "Let’s celebrate, provide witness, and fully participate in their lives."

Media contact(s)

Vajra Watson, UC Davis Student Affairs, cell 530-370-2889,

Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248, mobile 530-219-4545,

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