Rachel Jeantel never expected the amount of scrutiny placed on her when she was pushed into the national spotlight last June when she took the stand as the prosecution’s ‘star witness’ in the trial that found George Zimmerman not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin.
From the moment she flashed across our television screens, Rachel was consistently teased and tormented because of how she looked and the fact that she, at the time, could only read at a third grade reading level.
She recently sat down with CNN and revealed that after the trial ended she partially blamed herself for the verdict.
CNN: Were you blaming yourself when George Zimmerman went free.
RJ: A little bit.
CNN: Did you think you should have said something different, or acted differently.
RJ: Yeah, act different.
CNN: You think the jurors didn’t take you seriously?
RJ: They judged how they talk how they look, how they dress.
CNN: And they were judging you?
In the year since the trial, Rachel has worked hard to turn her life around and to keep a promise she made to her friend Trayvon — which was that she’d graduate high school. She told CNN that she was able to use the stress of the trial to motivate her to complete her goal of graduating high school, saying
“I kept my word to Trayvon that I would do this.”
She didn’t do it alone. Her attorney, Rod Vereen, made it his mission to help her. He got Rachel a support system to help her with her schooling.
‘And I couldn’t turn a blind eye to the problems that I knew she had.’
With his help and the support of her friends and family, Rachel graduated this past May and plans on going to college to major in fashion design.
Good job Rachel. We’re proud of you!
Check out a piece from her CNN interview below!