TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Anquan Boldin’s passion for service has taken him all over the world.
From his hometown of Pahokee, Fla., to NFL stops in Phoenix, Baltimore, San Francisco, Detroit and Buffalo, and even to parts of Africa.
On Tuesday, that passion led Boldin to Tallahassee, where before he became a professional football standout known for his intensity on the field and his compassion off of it, he starred at receiver on the Florida State football team from 1999-2002.
As part of a partnership with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), Boldin spoke to a crowd of Florida State student-athletes about the importance of civic engagement, taking of advantage of their public platform and, most of all, voting.
“I think it’s very important,” Boldin said. “A lot of people don’t understand how big their reach is. And the more aware you become, the more active you will be. Because you realize how much change you can create.”
Thank you @Seminoles for hosting me tonight for the @RISEtoWIN voting conversation. Tomorrow is the deadline to register in Florida. Please get out to vote and help make a difference this November. pic.twitter.com/Y0GXe5A6U0
— Anquan Boldin (@AnquanBoldin) October 9, 2018
Boldin’s visit coincided with the Florida voter registration deadline, which passed Tuesday. With Boldin’s words in mind and a little help from RISE’s “RISE to VOTE” campaign, a handful of student-athletes took the necessary steps to ensure they could cast their ballots in next month’s general election.
One of them was Jaiden Woodbey, a freshman safety who moved to Tallahassee from Southern California in January.
“I can see myself in (Boldin’s) shoes in 15 or 20 years,” Woodbey said. “Having my own organization, having all these amazing goals that I want to achieve. And just, by my voice, I can start it off.”
In a back-and-forth conversation with RISE CEO Diahann Billings-Burford, Boldin shared candid thoughts on student-athlete compensation, race relations and interactions with police.
Boldin also shared his thoughts on his former San Francisco teammate Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who made national news by kneeling during the national anthem before games.
No matter the topic, Boldin believes that the public platform granted to student-athletes, combined with thorough research and education, is a powerful tool for change.
Which is why Boldin told those registering to vote to take their responsibility seriously. Simply going into the booth planning to Christmas-tree the ballot won’t cut it.
“That’s just like jumping in a car and getting on the highway and never being able to drive,” Boldin said. “You’ll be in trouble.
“You definitely want to educate yourself because the things that you vote on are life-changing. Not only for you but those that come behind you.”
While Boldin’s post-football career keeps him on the go, he still relishes return trips to his alma mater.
Much has changed since Boldin’s time in Tallahassee – including, of course, the football team’s head coach – but there are still some things that look the same.
Like the auditorium inside the Moore Athletics Center in which Boldin delivered his message.
“I was in this same position, 15, 16 years ago, sitting in the exact seats that they’re sitting in,” Boldin said. “So to be able to come back and talk to them has been great for me.”