One of the most dramatic parts of the George Zimmerman trial was the two-day testimony of the friend Trayvon Martin was talking with on the phone just before he was killed. Rachel Jeantel had a grueling time on the stand. On the first day she got testy with Zimmerman's lawyer, Don West, during his badgering cross-examination. She was forced to admit that some of the testimony she'd given to police had been false. Afterward she was the subject of jeers throughout the Internet.
When we met her during her interview with Piers Morgan, though, we met a woman who had grown up with a debilitating overbite who considered Trayvon Martin one of her few loyal friends. One person watching that interview was so moved, he offered Jeantel a scholarship: Radio host Tom Joyner.
Joyner says he was especially moved when Jeantel told Morgan that she and Martin had talked about their futures. That got him wondering about Jeantel's future -- what are her hopes and dreams? On his radio show Tuesday morning he said:
If there is something she wants to do, I want to help ... I will help you get tutors to get out of high school, tutors to pass the SAT. I will give you a full-ride scholarship to any HBCU [historically black college or university].
Though 19, Jeantel has not yet graduated from high school, though she says she has a 3.0 G.P.A. Joyner later said, "it's going to take some work, first of all, to get her a high school diploma." So it sounds like Joyner is signing up for a significant project. But good for him.
If Joyner can keep his commitment, and Jeantel does finally get her diploma and attends (and graduates from) college, then at least one good thing will have come from the whole depressing Trayvon Martin case. It won't make up for his death, but I think Martin would be happy for his friend.
I wish every struggling young woman like Jeantel could get this much help. I hope it all works out for her.
Do you think Joyner should be helping Jeantel this much?
Image via CNN