SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Anquan Boldin would absolutely welcome and appreciate the chance to sit down with new President Donald Trump and exchange thoughts and ideas and discuss concerns for minorities.
The NFL wide receiver and impending free agent insists that like him or not, communication and civil discourse are the only ways to move forward in a positive way during Trump's presidency with a country divided.
''We are in a period where this country is divided. I think anybody that says otherwise is fooling themselves,'' Boldin said Tuesday. ''But I do think in order for us to be successful, at some point we have to come together. You might not like the other person or you might not like what they stand for or whatever it is. We have a trip planned to D.C. this coming spring and I was asked the question, `If you were invited to the White House, would you meet with President Trump?' My answer was yes.
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''At this point in order for anything to be changed, you have to sit down and talk with President Trump. At this point the Republicans they're in control of the House, they're in control of the Congress, so in order for anything or any change you have to meet with the powers that be and you have to sit down and explain exactly where you're coming from but also you have to be willing to listen. I think that's one of the things that's hindering us as a country now, nobody listens to each other no more.''
Boldin took part Tuesday in a panel discussion led by activist and sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards called ''From Protest to Progress: Next Steps'' at San Jose State University, where the school announced its new Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change during the ''From Words to Action'' summit.
Hall of Famer Jim Brown, a civil rights leader and former NFL star, was part of a group that included ex-linebacker Ray Lewis to meet with Trump last month to speak about issues and challenges facing African-Americans in the inner city.
''I'm an American citizen. I voted for Hillary Clinton, and we lost,'' Brown said. ''I look to the seat of power, which is the President of the United States. Donald Trump won that seat, therefore a lot of people went home and sat down and started complaining and voicing their opinions on him. I went back to the people I had ready to be able to do certain things that were positive for the young people across this country and told them that I would reach out to the President. But his people reached out to me, and they liked me program. ''Yet Edwards opened his remarks mentioning how the ''exit celebrations'' from Obama's presidency transitioning to Trump last week ''seemed curiously like victory laps around the cemetery, a cemetery containing open graves with pre-carved headstones already in place'' with all of the alarming change the new administration has planned.
''One thing that is clear is that sports organizations and the whole of the sports institution of America must prepare to constructively and productively manage that which can neither be eliminated or avoided,'' Edwards said.
Others taking part Tuesday included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former NFL player Takeo Spikes, ex-NBA star Chris Webber and former Olympic sprint star and activist Tommie Smith.
Spikes in no way expects everyone to be comfortable speaking out publicly but encourages people to decide where they stand on social issues.
''I've always known that any time you want to make change you have to be proactive,'' he said.
Brown will keep doing his part, determined to help boost jobs through life-management skills and is committed to the ''eradication of the violence in these neighborhoods around the country.''
He is prepared to continue proactive dialogue with Trump while giving voices to the minorities and underprivileged who might not be heard otherwise.
''I'm very optimistic,'' Brown said. ''I am going to convey something, I have conveyed something to him and I have called his attention to the minorities in this country and the fact that we have forces out there that will work with his administration to make a better life for these minorities. Ray Lewis is my lead guy and we have been really accepted with great respect by the President and a lot of people on his staff.
''And as I said to everybody: `I don't play quarterback, I'm just a running back, so I don't have the answer to everything.'''
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