Reporter: Rachel jeantel was the state's star witness. She was supposed to spellbind the jury with details of her phone call with trayvon martin, just moments before he was killed. Then, she opened... See More
Reporter: Rachel jeantel was the state's star witness. She was supposed to spellbind the jury with details of her phone call with trayvon martin, just moments before he was killed. Then, she opened her mouth. That's real retarded sir. I'm sorry? That's real retarded to do that, sir. Reporter: Rachel jeantel, 19-years-old, and just entering her senior year. Jeantel was pitted against savvy trial lawyers who kept her floundering on the witness stand for seven hours. Are you claiming in any way that you don't understand english? I don't understand you, I do understand english. Reporter: This was the moment that people were waiting for, to hear this star witness, if you will. And it turned out to be something very, very different. It ended up not being about trayvon and ended up being more about her. Reporter: Jeantel was not only vilified, this professor says she was mammified. Reporter: Tell me what you mean by the mammyfication of rachel jeantel. A lot of people came out and criticized her for her hair, for her hair, her skin, her darker skin tone, for being overweight. Reporter: And when she thought she was out, they brought her back in. I think we should plan on at least a couple of hours. What! Reporter: Most of what jeantel was supposed to say, got lost in how she said it. At that point, did you know anything more about the case? Nope. Reporter: Race surfaced again when jeantel said martin had referred to george zimmerman as a -- creepy-ass cracker. Reporter: The defense team jumped on that, suggesting it was martin who had done the profiling. With jeantel -- race, a side show before, became the main attraction. To say this case is not about race is ignoring the pink elephant in the room. This case is about race. Reporter: Shortly after the bullet left zimmerman's gun, race became the flashpoint, but the wheels of justice in sanford were turning at glacial speed. We want arrest! Shot in the chest! Reporter: There was no arrest for six weeks. No justice! No peace! Reporter: It divided sanford and a nation. If a black man had come into a white neighborhood and gunned down a 17-year-old boy, all hell would let loose. Reporter: Celebrities and average joes alike pulled on the kind of hoodies martin wore that night. It inspired the million hoodie march, 1,000 miles iowa from sanford. High school walkouts. And so many protests. The message was being heard -- all the way to the white house. You know, if I had a son, he'd look like trayvon. If I were a d.A., I would not have touched this case. Reporter: Christopher darden, famous for prosecuting o.J. Simpson, knows how first hard race can influence a murder trial. Do you think the issue of race could actually affect the way the jurors decide on the verdict? People say all the time, all around, everywhere I go, if he wasn't black, he wouldn't have followed him. If he wasn't black, he wouldn't have gotten out of his vehicle. If he wasn't black, he wouldn't have confronted him. Metro police department. Okay, and this guy, is he white, black or hispanic? He looks black. Reporter: Zimmerman was only responding to a direct question from the 911 operator, but those three words stung many. We lift up this case to you, because you, father god, know exactly what happened that night. Reporter: Here at the ame allen church in sanford, churchgoers say publicly what many feel privately. I can assure you unequivocally, if I had bn a black man and killed a 17-year-old white boy under the conditions that that boy was murdered, I'd been in jail, probably doing time now. You know, I'm just calling it like it is. Reporter: About a third of sanford's 54,000 residents are black. As the trial gripped their community, some church members began speaking out on an unholy topic. Until we become honest about the divide that exists in this community, there will be no getting better. Reporter: Still, this little church dreamed big, with a laundry list of prayers to be answered. First thing we asked for was the arrest. Then we asked for the chief of police to be fired, and we did get our african-american chief. That was our heart's devir. Reporter: Divine intervention? Perhaps. But it was the city manager's intervention that fired the old police chief and hired cecil smith. Do you think you were hired because you are african-american? I think I was hired for my qualifications. Reporter: Smith will attempt to play top cop, mediator and peacemaker all at the same time. There's been essentially a separation between the two races for quite some time. And our goal right now, at least for a police chief, is to try to bridge that gap. Reporter: Just yesterday in closing arguments, and speaking to the all-female jury, all but one of whom are white, prosecutor bernie de la rionda invoked martin luther king's "i have a dream" speech as he tried to do damage control on rachel jeantel's testimony. I have a dream that today, witness would be judged not on the color of her personality, but the content of her testimony. Reporter: Folks in sanford are well aware the nation is watching -- big week in the zimmerman trial. Reporter: The trial broadcast wall to wall on tv. Is this a race case? Yes, because we've all interjected race into it. Those civil rights activists and the media. You helped to make this a race case. Reporter: At the most racially charged trial in memory, tv cameras have also spotted channa lloyd. This 34-year-old african-american law student works for the defense as a law clerk, which means by extension, she works for george zimmerman. The jaded will say she is nothing more than a legal prop. You sit there every day, you look at george zimmerman sitting right next to you. How do you feel about him? I feel bad for george. I think it's very unfortunate that trayvon martin lost his life, because loss of life is always unfortunate. But I think that george is also fighting for a life that probably will never be the same. But it's still his. Reporter: Do you think of george zimmerman as a topic differently than you think of george zimmerman the person? Absolutely. Reporter: Have other people asked you about her? Yeah, some have asked, you know, is she there because of her race? And you know, the answer is pretty easy. No. Reporter: Another example of the case that's all about race, despite the word rarely mentioned in court. Racism has been the elephant in the room in the trial but never overtly mentioned. It's sort of the ultimate personification of how race plays itself out in our society today. You can't -- you don't really know. Reporter: And you can't really put your finger on it. Right. But you feel it. Right, if you're on the receiving end of that. You feel it. Are you claiming in any way that you don't understand english? Reporter: The case is about to come to its conclusion. When it does, it's all hands on deck. What percentage of your police force is going to be ready in anticipation of whatever happens? Our entire police department. Reporter: Everybody. There's no vacations, there's no furloughs. I don't know how you feel about it, but I'm telling you right now, zimmerman is guilty, whether you or the nation who is on his side don't like it, he's guilty. Reporter: And if, as many suspect, george zimmerman is acquitted, he'll win his freedom, but he may not ever really be free. I think he stays in hiding. But if I was him, I'm not sure i would take the chance of walking down the street.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.