Nearly one year ago an all-female, nearly all-white jury returned a “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial. Zimmerman had been charged in the February 2012 shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
Here’s an update on some of the people and correlating events that were part of the critical conversations inspired by the 17-year-old Trayvon and Zimmerman’s exoneration in a Florida courtroom on July 13, 2013.
Rachel Jeantel graduated from high school in May. She was the last person—besides George Zimmerman—to speak to Trayvon, and emerged as the prosecution’s key witness. Jeantel, who has a deep voice and a bit of a lisp, seemed to struggle with communicating her version of the events while on the witness stand. She was heavily ridiculed and some people even questioned her intellect. During an interview with CNN, Tom Joyner appeared with Jeantel in a segment and encouraged her to think critically about what she wanted to do with her own life. He vowed to help her graduate from high school and go to college if those were her aspirations.
Jeantel, with the help of after-school tutors and a team of dedicated mentors, got her high school diploma. “I did it,” she told Yahoo! News after graduating. Even more special: Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, attended her graduation.
“The witness who didn’t know how to speak English knows how to speak English through the 12th grade now. I never quit,” Jeantel said.
Trayvon Martin’s Hoodie
Trayvon’s hoodie resonated with supporters because it came to represent the stereotypes inflicted upon young black men by certain communities. People around the nation put on their hoodies and attended their cities’ rallies to protest the circumstances surrounding Trayvon’s death.