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With help from the community, Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel finishes high school

Reported by Liku Zelleke

Rachel Jeantel was on the phone talking to Trayvon Martin during the last moments of his life on February 26th, 2012. That night, the 17-year-old would be shot and killed by George Zimmerman, the watchman that was supposed to protect him and the other residents of their gated community in Sanford, Florida.

Jeantel would become a key witness for the prosecution. Being a child of immigrant parents, she spoke Haitian Creole, Spanish and English, and during her testimonies it was, at times, pretty difficult to decipher exactly what it was she was saying.

The conversations she had with defense attorney Don West sometimes presented a spectacle of its own.

After a few misunderstandings that went back and forth, West asked her, “Are you claiming in any way that you don’t understand English?”

After a pause and a stare, Jeantel answered, “I don’t understand you. I do understand English.”

Later, when Jeantel was forced to admit that she couldn’t read a letter written in cursive, in addition to her spoken English and her mannerisms, she became the target of mocking on social media and in real life – something that would occur on a daily basis.

It had been reported that Jeantel and Martin were dating, but that was wrong. She says that they were just close friends and had been so since they met in second grade. He didn’t judge her and that was one of the many things that endeared him to her.

“He cared about you. That’s a good human,” her attorney said of Martin and added that the two teens had been talking about their futures moments before he was killed.

It was because of this irony that, when the trial was over in mid-July, Rod Vereen, a Miami defense and civil rights attorney took her under his wings.

“Rachel was in need, and the whole world was watching,” he said.

So, with financial backing from the Tom Joyner Foundation, Vereen, 52, hired three tutors, a psychologist and other mentors to help Jeantel. For nine months, the team tutored her after school – three hours a day and five to six days a week – until the girl who, whilst entering her senior year, was reading and doing math at an elementary school level was able to finally graduate.

Jeantel was handed her well-earned high school diploma, fulfilling the promise she said that she had made to Martin.

“I did it,” she said. “The witness who didn’t know how to speak English knows how to speak English through the 12th grade now. I never quit.”

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24 thoughts on “With help from the community, Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel finishes high school

  1. Frankie Serrano

    I wish you would have had the same DETERMINATION when Our Brother was shot down. Also it saddens me that a community comes to her AID when a Tragedy occurs AGAIN to Our Brothers and Sisters. I am Elated for you & Hope that you continue my Sister….

    Reply
  2. Reneegede

    There was nothing wrong with her language from the start. Y’all krakkasniggaz heard what you WANTED to hear … then she gets all krakkerific and suddenly, SHE MAKES AN AMAZING TRANSFORMATION. She’s still the same person, krakkasniggas heard what they WANTED to hear coming out of her mouth and THEY were embarrassed.

    Reply
    • big annie

      She did fine on that witness stand…she made that attorney shut up then stutter to find words to respond several times. She is not stupid like many claim.
      I am glad she received the needed support. With further education, she will be fine. I am Team Rachel J.!!!

      Reply
  3. Thomas

    Instead of “picking ” at the young lady’s not fully understanding English, why didn’t the illiterate. in other language, lawyers use an interpreter. If she was a WHITE woman who spoke French well, that is what they would have done. WHITE means “build up ” and BLACK. means “tarnish “

    Reply
  4. A. G.

    Congrats to her! It just goes to show with a little help from those that care, you can be/have anything you so desire! Hopefully she continues on to higher ed.

    Reply
  5. geraldine

    Why can one person get the help need , but we have some many to date felling. Something is very wrong with this picture. We have good educated teachers in the schools, but yet hundreds and thousands of our kids are not at the educated level they should be. Please get those people that help her and put them in all the schools so all kids can have the same chance. WOW!!!

    Reply
  6. geraldine

    I also think if we as educaters will stop focusing the bad and help with our kids needs we can build a better educated child for the world future. This project can be jobs creation for the many that is out of work. I guess the next question will be where the money coming from, well I might be wrong, but if you find the funds to save the whale
    why not find it to save education for the worlds future. WOW!!!

    Reply
  7. Paula Oh

    Yeah and congratulations to Rachel! It’s always nice to hear that another sister or brother has worked to further their education. Remember, education is the currency of the 21st century…no one can take it from you!

    Reply
  8. Billie

    I am so glad to hear that some one actual cared about this precious young lady.
    Now the question asked and not answered, what will ever happen to the murderous, Zimmerman, and the crooked Prosecurtor, that had no intention of prosecuting George Zimmerman. Thank God , that Jeantel, will be able to make a new life for her self. WHEN DID THAT RENEEGEDE, CREEP CRAWL FROM UNDER A SNAKE BED, GO BACK TO YOUR SNAKE PIT.

    Reply
  9. H. LaVerne Hardin

    Jeantel was Trayvon’s friend. Trayvon was her friend. They would have grown to be friends for life. They trusted each other. Her testimony was very interesting and sincere. White lawyer was very mean and tried to be threatening to her, SHE HANDLED him so well, she gave him reality, she gave him her, she gave him the truth, and they twisted her, not the killer, still she stood her ground. I thank Mr. Joyner for stepping up so quickly to enhance this woman. God will continue to bless you Jeantel.

    Reply
  10. Proletariat Dawn

    Tremendous job to the team and Rachel. kudos. Now to face the fact that she is medically morbidly obese! She WILL have a greatly abbreviated life span if she dose not lose well over 100 pounds in the near future. I hope her team of helpers can get her gastric bypass surgery while she is young and strong with her whole life ahead of her.

    Reply
  11. teena hendricks

    I am so proud of her. I loved her so much. She is really an inspiration to young women every where. She did not allow herself to be bullied.

    Reply
  12. Kevin

    What is SHOCKING? The fact she finish HIGH SCHOOL? Congrats to her..

    To other black folks; Please STOP believing What whites say about US and STOP apologizing to whites for being BLACK..its ignorance to the zillionth power and it enables whites to do what they have done to this girl in court and play US stupid in front of others and WE BELEIVE IT, the girl was credible at the trial, the lawyers for Zimmerman confused her to make her look un-credible to the mostly all white jury to acquit zimmerman of murder this girl was on the PHONE with TRAYVON and he told her exactly what was happening; he was being followed by Zimmerman who chased him down and put his hands on trayvon and trayvon defended himself and was SHOT by a coward with a gun named Zimmerman basically he got away with murder. I hope he has NO peace at all for the rest of his life, he can’t sleep at night and trouble follows him everywhere.

    Reply
  13. sharon anthony

    Good for Rachel. I am sure if Trayvon were here he would be proud of his friend. His murder has been played out for the media way too much. I’m sure that Miss Jeantel could tell much much more about a happy life he had until that tragic night.

    Reply
  14. Selina Chavis

    I am so proud of you Jeantrl. Now become that powerful lawyer and let the world know whet you are made of.

    God Bless you always.

    Trayvon is proud of you also. R.I.P.

    Reply

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