“One of the most segregated days of the week is on a Sunday.”
-Pastor Lowman Oliver
St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church
Pastor Lowman Oliver is part of the Sanford Pastor Connection, a coalition of area pastors invited into the courtroom to watch the George Zimmerman Trial and share their reflections with their congregations. “As I sat in the courtroom and observed it is a challenging process but it is a fair process.” Zimmerman is facing 2nd degree murder for the shooting death of unarmed Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin.
For Pastor Oliver the racial undertones to this case are inescapable, despite few direct references to race from the prosecution.
“There had been cases unresolved dealing with black young males,” said Pastor Oliver of Sanford. “My generation has experienced desegregation, I’m a part of the Civil Rights Movement, I was a college student during the time that King got shot so you are connecting to past experiences.
"I was brought up in Sanford, Florida so therefore there is that experience of how whites were treated and blacks were treated.
You’ve got a new generation where race is not really a big issue there because there has been what appears to be race coming together. You walk down the lakefront and look in the parks and seeing how people getting along, even right now, you know, however that undertone still exists."
Many area residents worry about what will happen when the jury of six women, of which all but one are white, come back with a verdict.
“We hear this riot talk, there has never been, in the history of this city, nor if there was a movement under the direction of the NAACP or any other larger group, a protest in a violent manner.
"This is always done in a peaceful manner and this is the message that we send and our churches should be in leadership of that because we are not about violence we are about being the examples of how our god desire for us to live together in harmony and peace.
"There are some things all can be angry about, there should be anger against racism but that anger should drive us to do things in love to resolve that not in violence. You don't sin against sin, makes it worse.”