Anquan Boldin retired from the NFL just months after his cousin, Corey Jones, was shot by an off-duty police officer in 2015.
Boldin, a Florida State standout who went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL, has used his platform to educate sports fans about his cousin’s story and racism in the U.S. As part of his effort the last few years, Boldin founded Players Coalition, which works with politicians to open eyes to inequality.
“The thing I’m afraid of is allowing this moment to pass without bringing about meaningful change,” Boldin told USA Today. “I’m afraid that if we don’t come together collectively, the messaging will get hijacked, and we will miss this moment in creating real change to make sure that we’re not back here again. So, for us, everybody is angry. Everyone is outraged and rightfully so. But you have to sit back and ask yourselves –number one, ‘What is it that I want?’ and number two, ‘How do I get what I want?’
“We all have to understand that there is a common enemy. There is a common system. There are common players who are allowing this to continue in our country. And if we’re going to make any progress, we’ve got to shine the light on there.”
Race and discrimination are uncomfortable discussions but it has come to the forefront in the last few weeks. George Floyd, who was killed when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his throat for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician, was struck at least eight times by Louisville police, who were executing a search warrant in her apartment. Ahmad Aubrey was killed in Georgia but his alleged attackers were not arrested until months later after a New York Times investigation.
Protests around the nation began last week, with some remaining peaceful while other protestors vandalized businesses. The sports world, including FSU coaches and some players, have asked that this be a time of listening and understanding.
“I’ve never seen so much hatred in this world,” FSU receivers coach Ron Dugans posted on Twitter. “It’s one thing after another. I look at my children and I’m fearful because I don’t know what the future holds for them. I pray daily for life, health and strength, and love, peace and happiness. Today, Lord, I pray for justice. We can’t go on like this.”
FSU linebackers coach Chris Marve, posting on Twitter: “Racism. bigotry. Prejudice. Though all are both overtly taught / learned behaviors and subconsciously and often conspicuously perpetuated, they all share a singular commonality: each is an infectious disease. And like most diseases, each needs to be eradicated in its entirety and uprooted from the body that is America. OUR America. OUR Home.”
FSU defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins, posting on Twitter, quoted Dr. Martin Luther King in saying “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Haggins reflected on his work with young people and being a mentor who instills Christian values. “I love coaching,” Haggins wrote. “However, I am more than a coach and the players that I coach are more than players on a football team or about winning games. They are family. As a coach, this moment should not be about nice sound bites to save face. The moment should be about reflection and living what you state.”
Many athletes and coaches posted on Twitter using #BlackOutTuesday to keep the conversation at the forefront for all of us.
Terrell Buckley, who is now at Ole Miss, posted on Twitter that he didn’t know Floyd but “he could have been me, a family member, or one of my present or past players. It is an unusual feeling to know that all human life is not valued the same. However, I am encourage by seeing people of all different races come together for change. I am hopeful that one day we will have lasting positive change.”