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Tom Joyner Offers Trayvon Martin's Friend, Rachel Jeantel, a Full College Scholarship

Liz Dwyer

America raked Rachel Jeantel, the Florida teen who testified during the George Zimmerman trial about what she heard while talking on the phone to her friend Trayvon Martin, over the coals for sounding uneducated, but radio host Tom Joyner admires her courage so much, he's stepping up to help. "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," Joyner told Jeantel on his show today.

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  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Interesting report on NPR today about how the summer and a lot of other circumstances sometimes causes kids who have gotten scholarships to not actually end up going to school. Offers like Joyner's are obviously very generous, but are they sustainable? Can he make sure Jeantel actually follows through and finishes at HBCU? Would she even want to or is that the best path for her? Just questions.

    • Liz Dwyer

      That is an interesting report--I haven't checked it out yet, but one thing I know is that the hard conversations come when it's nearly time for families to cut the first tuition check and they realize they don't have a cash on hand.

      That said, Joyner's offer doesn't have to be sustainable because although his foundation does plenty of good work, he's not, as far as I know, offering this specific opportunity to anyone other than Rachel Jeantel. His decision to do so is certainly motivated by the media's depiction of her as nothing but an ignorant, inarticulate, black teenager--despite the fact that she's trilingual and clearly just as capable as any other teen of the same age.

      What's great is that Joyner's offering to give her tutors and coaches to help her along the way and ensure that she has the support she needs. Her reaction to this opportunity was one of excitement and gratitude and I have a feeling that there are going to be plenty of people in her corner to ensure that she gets where she needs to go and is able to persevere.

      Now, she obviously has free will and could, like any other student, decide that college is not for her. She could end up being a huge entrepreneur a la Mark Zuckerberg and drop out of school to start a business. And if that's her choice, more power to her.