Speaking to Jeantel on his cell phone as he walked toward his father’s house, Martin told her he was being followed. She advised him to run away from the man who would ultimately kill him. Jeantel testified that she heard a bump, the sound of wet grass and Martin saying “get off of me.” Then, the phone went dead, and she would never hear Martin’s voice again.
On top of losing her best friend, Jeantel experienced the trauma of hearing some of Trayvon’s last words. And, as if that weren’t enough, Jeantel, in exchange for her testimony, was disrespected by Zimmerman’s lawyer and mercilessly criticized and mocked on social media.
But Tuesday, Jeantel was finally validated. Tom Joyner, the host of the radio show “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” offered Jeantel a scholarship to any historically black college or university (HBCU) she wants to attend. There are approximately 100 HBCUs in the country, including Tuskegee University, Joyner’s Alma Mater. Joyner was moved by Jeantel’s testimony and her interview with Piers Morgan, though he didn’t understand why Morgan didn’t ask her about her plans for the future. So, Joyner invited Jeantel onto his show and said:
“Here’s my offer to you, if you want to graduate from high school and go to an HBCU, even if it’s not in Florida but especially Florida, like Florida Memorial, Edward Waters, Bethune Cookman or FAMU, if you want to do that, I want to help you do that… I will help you get tutors to get you out of high school, tutors to help you pass the SAT and I will give you a full ride scholarship to any HBCU you’d like.”
Jeantel responded by saying, “thank you.” The support for Jeantel will come from Joyner’s organization The Tom Joyner Foundation, whose mission is “supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with scholarship, endowment, and capacity building enhancements.” Joyner wrote to The Grio: “At the Tom Joyner Foundation, our passion is focused on helping students fulfill their dreams at HBCUs… We’re going to do everything we can to help Rachel Jeantel to pursue her dreams of getting a college education. We look forward to helping her experience the nurturing environment that an HBCU offers that has helped so many students over the years succeed.”
You can support the foundation here.
Congratulations, Ms. Jeantel!
(You can see Joyner explaining his decision to Piers Morgan in the video below.)
Photo Credit: Zennie Abraham