David Leaverton played on Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team and finished his collegiate career following the 2000 season.
Now the former UT punter is on a journey nationwide seeking what causes division in America while searching for unity.
“We sold our house and quit our jobs in Dallas,” Leaverton told Vols Wire. “My wife, me and our three kids bought an RV and are on a journey to all 50 states. We are going to one state per week and going to do the whole country in a year.
“The goal is an understanding of what divides us and with a hope to find out what will it take to see reconciliation and unity in America.”
Following Leaverton’s UT playing career, the former punter bounced around the NFL and never really landed anywhere.
He continued to go back to Knoxville to train and stay in shape while hoping for his break in the NFL.
During that process, Leaverton volunteered on a political campaign in Knoxville for Lamar Alexander who was running for the United States Senate at the time, a seat Alexander has held since 2003.
Over the next 12 years, Leaverton worked in different levels of politics and government and “began to see how divided our country was becoming and how broken our political system is.”
“This past presidential election, it felt like we were hitting a tipping point as a country,” he said. “We can kind of go and destroy ourselves or we can find a way to move forward as a nation made up of people with vastly different viewpoints and ideologies.
“That is why we founded a nonprofit organization called Undivided Nation as we start thinking is unity possible in the United States and do people want this. We did not understand what was going on as far as our divisions.”
Finding root causes of dysfunction and where communities are breaking down is what his journey is about.
“What we have found throughout our journey, it has been often around the issue of race and racism,” Leaverton said. “Race divide has been a real shocking revelation as we have gone on this journey and have stepped outside of our bubble.
“We have seen the world through other people’s eyes and we realize that there is a level of brokenness and division and often has its roots in race, so that has been one of the biggest things we have learned through that.”
Leaverton and his family are currently on their 50-state journey and their road trip blog details experiences from each state.