On Wednesday night, radio host and philanthropist Tom Joyner (pictured) appeared on the “Piers Morgan Live” to explain why he felt moved to offer friend and star witness in the George Zimmerman trial Rachel Jeantel (pictured below) a free college education at any Historically Black College or University (HBCU) of her choosing. And according to Joyner, both the media’s and lawyer’s treatment of Jeantel inspired him to make a lasting impact on her her future.
For Joyner, seeing the barrage of criticism Jeantel received while she was on the stand disturbed him, “Well, it all started of course at the trial. And when she testified, the reaction to her testimony was very troubling to me. People were criticizing her and her education and communication skills. The way the lawyer was just beating her up on the stand just really moved me.”
Still, Joyner didn’t get the idea to offer her a college scholarship until she appeared on the “Piers Morgan Live” show Monday night, “And then last night when I saw her on your show, you did a follow-up question that [asked her] what do you want to do in life.
“That’s when the light bulb went off. I said I want to help her. We have a foundation that helps students in historically black colleges and universities. The Tom Joyner Foundation has been around since ’98 and since then, we’ve donated and raised more than $65 million to that end.”
To Joyner, seeing Jeantel being still in high school at the age of 19 and struggling with the tragic death of friend Trayvon made him come to one conclusion: “She deserves a chance.”
“All this criticism about, you know, how the system has failed her or she’s failed the system. She’s 19 years old and she’s a senior in high school. Right, OK. So in the past year-and-a-half her life has been turned upside down. She’s been back and forth with depositions and appointments and everything, plus sad about her best friend being killed. So her senior year is all a wreck.”
Watch Joyner’s interview here:
When Piers Morgan asked Joyner whether he thinks Jeantel will manage in college, Joyner responded that he and his team are willing to do the work to get her ready, “It’s going to take some work, first of all, to get her high school diploma and get her ready for the SAT test … and then entered in to college. But we are going to do that…I told her she can go to any historically black college she wants to.”