In a time period that is so powerfully demanding social change, you likely feel an undeniable push to contribute. You might stop and think about the day that your kids will ask you about the year 2020 and all of the things you did to put a stop to racism. You’ll likely reflect—what have you done? What more can you do?
When former chapter president of Phi Alpha Delta, Maddie Siegel’s kids ask her this question, she’ll have an ear-full to give them. Maddie has been on the pre-law track at FSU for the last three years and has made copious efforts towards admission into law school. She has led her pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, gracefully through a year of scholarships, service and socials. She has also spent the last 7 months working at King and Wood P.A., a local law firm in Tallahassee where she has gained ample experience in the world of law. Above all, Maddie is an active member of her community. While Maddie hopes to study real estate law upon her admission into graduate school, she has an undeniable passion for social issues. When asked if her background in real estate law has any influence on her activism efforts for the BLM movement, she states, “On face value, no. Because really, what would a tax and real estate lawyer have to offer to a Black Lives Matter protest? More importantly, I think it’s just my interest in the law and how it affects us all as people that have really fueled this fire.”
This fueled fire has carried Maddie through astounding efforts toward social change. In fact, part of the reason she fights so hard for what she believes in is rooted in where she’s from. “Something that not a lot of people know about me is that I’m actually from Minneapolis, so when everything with George Floyd started going down, I was appalled. I know that community very well, and I was just shocked that it was happening in my backyard, essentially,” she shares. Maddie watched as friends from her hometown actively participated in protests in some of the most gruesome conditions. Many of her loved ones came face to face with tear gas, rubber bullets and a few even had to run from semi-trucks that were recklessly driving into protestors. Maddie passionately states, “I just really knew that I wanted to get involved here (in Tallahassee) immediately because if they can go out there and be brave in the worst conditions ever… then I can do it here too.”
Since this epiphany, Maddie has done nothing but contribute to the cause. She has been active on all social media accounts in an effort to educate her peers. She even went so far as to draft a letter to Florida’s state attorney after charges were dropped against a semi-truck that drove through protest crowds in Tallahassee. She posted her letter to social media and about thirty members of the community ended up sending it in. Outside of this, she has attended countless protests in the city of Tallahassee that have put her in life-threatening situations of her own. On Saturday, Aug. 29, Maddie attended a protest at the Florida State Capital Building, where an armed man arrived with a group of counter-protesters and eventually pointed the gun at one of Maddie’s fellow protestors. “I just remember, in my head, thinking, ‘don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip.’ I was even like, ‘Maybe my backpack will help me not get shot from behind,’” says Maddie. Luckily, the situation was de-escalated very quickly and all of the protesters left unharmed. Despite no physical damage, Maddie states, “I’m never going to get that memory out of my mind.”
It’s bravery like Maddie’s that will kick start change in our society. She urges those who are looking to get involved to start by educating themselves. She clarifies, “Education. That is the number one thing! It uplifts us and can give us so many benefits in life, including understanding how to dismantle systemic inequality.”