Trayvon Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel will enjoy a full ride to any historically black college or university of her choosing thanks to radio personality, philanthropist, and media executive Tom Joyner.
The 63-year-old made an offer to pay for all of Jeantel’s education needs on open air July 16, and the 19-year-old accepted in an interview on HLN the following day.
“If there’s something that I can help her do—that she wants to do—I want to help,” Joyner said during a phone interview with Jeantel and her attorney, Rod Vereen, during The Tom Joyner Show.
Joyner made the offer after viewing Jeantel’s July 15 interview with Piers Morgan, during which Morgan asked Jeantel what she and Trayvon Martin were talking about in the numerous conversations they had during his last day of life, Feb. 26, 2012.
When Jeantel said the two had been talking about what they wanted to do in the future, Joyner noticed that Morgan gave no follow up questions as to what the teen actually plans to do with her life.
During her two days testifying in the George Zimmerman murder trial, Jeantel was scrutinized and pummeled by defense attorneys, news outlets, and social media for her communication skills and her attitude during her testimony about her friendship and final phone calls with the late Trayvon Martin.
Jeantel was the voice on the other end of the phone just minutes before Zimmerman, 29, shot Martin, 17. And though the tri-lingual teen did clarify within her first two minutes on the stand that her father is from the Dominican Republic and mother is Haitian, she was still deemed ignorant and uneducated for not having complete mastery of English, her third language, despite other full-blooded American witnesses misspeaking as well.
“You have touched me,” Joyner told Jeantel, before offering her a college education which she says will be connected in some way to the criminal justice system. “If you want to do that, I want to help you do that. I will help you get tutors to help you get out of high school, tutors to help you pass the SAT and I will give you a full ride scholarship to any HBCU you like.”
There are a total of 105 HBCU campuses in the United States of America, and one located in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Having been pilloried and ridiculed in the national media, Ms. Jeantel will be able to realize her educational aspirations in a welcoming and supportive environment, while sharing the richness of her Haitian Creole, Spanish, American tri-cultural, tri-lingual background,” Lezli Baskerville, president and CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity, said in a statement.
“While a number of HBCUs would serve her well, off of the top of my head, I would suggest that Ms. Jeantel consider Southern University New Orleans(SUNO) because of the French Creole culture in New Orleans, and because SUNO has one of the nation's leading criminal justice programs, the field of study she desires to pursue,” Baskerville said.