Freeman Lecture: 'Justice for Jeantel (and Trayvon)' by John Rickford

February 17, 2017
2:30 pm

Professor John Rickford of Stanford University, one of the world’s foremost experts on the structure, history and sociolinguistics of African-American Vernacular English, delivers the 2017 Freeman Lecture, titled “Justice for Jeantel (and Trayvon): Fighting Dialect Prejudice in Courtrooms and Beyond.”

In his talk, Rickford unpacks the testimony and treatment of Rachel Jaental, the leading prosecution witness when George Zimmerman was tried for killing Trayvon Martin. During her testimony, Jeantal spoke using African-American Vernacular English, and her testimony was dismissed as incomprehensible and not credible. Rickford approaches Jeantal’s experience through the lens of a linguist, but crafts his talk—which tackles institutionalized racism and ways vernacular speakers might be heard—for a general audience.