SANFORD, Fla. - Sanford church leaders have the difficult task of uniting the city following the polarizing George Zimmerman trial.
As tourists stopped to pay their respects to Trayvon Martin in Sanford's historic Goldsboro neighborhood, faith leaders in Sanford held a reconciliation meeting to discuss racial divides following George Zimmerman's not-guilty verdict.
"The tragedy forced us, almost if I could say, shamed us, into working some of this stuff out," said Pastor Jeff Krall of Family Life Church.
Since the case began last February, church leaders have held regular meetings aimed to ease racial tensions.
Pastor Derrick Gay of
Dominion International Church said it remains to be seen if there has been an impact.
"But in a church perspective, I think we're moving in the right direction," Gay said.
Resident Francis Oliver said meetings are not enough to heal such deep wounds.
"The racial problem in Sanford goes back 100 years," Oliver said.
Oliver has lived in Sanford for 65 of those years.
Her daughter, Natalie Jackson, is one of the Martin family attorneys.
"When you start talking about race in Sanford, people get out of their comfort zone," Oliver said.
Gay said that's why conversations at reconciliation meetings like the one held Wednesday are so important.
"If it starts with us, black and white leaders coming together, the community sees us linking arms on a united front. Then we can make a huge impact within the culture," Gay said.