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Sanford Civil Rights Leader Says Dialogue Could Help Ferguson


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"The Trayvon Martin Project, Part One: A Tribute" is part of the dialogue that followed Martin's death. Photo: Kristen Wheeler, KHPhotographics

"The Trayvon Martin Project, Part One: A Tribute" is part of the dialogue that followed Martin's death. Photo: Kristen Wheeler, KHPhotographics

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Unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after Monday’s grand jury decision shows the need for honest dialogue about racial tension. That’s according to one of the organizers of demonstrations in Central Florida after the George Zimmerman verdict.

Francis Oliver says Sanford shares Ferguson’s racial challenges. She preserves black history at the Florida city’s Goldsboro Historical Museum and she led protests after Trayvon Martin’s death.

Oliver says the difference between Sanford and Ferguson is a sense of dialogue. “During the Trayvon Martin [protests], we were able to address, identify and deal with the good ole boy system in Sanford, so now we are still working toward an ‘us’ instead of a ‘we’ and ‘them.’”

Oliver says, when activists wanted to hear Zimmerman’s 911 call, the Sanford mayor got them the audio. When they criticized the police chief, officials removed him.

“We don’t advocate burning. We don’t advocate looting. We don’t advocate running out and tearing up the town and the city,” Oliver says. “We are advocating the vote, the power of the vote, and it’s in the ballot box.”

She adds that the country’s racial tension isn’t over, so efforts to address it must continue.


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