Social justice and activism remain at the forefront of many young leaders’ minds in Tallahassee.
With important elections and rights at stake, voter education is highly encouraged. Due to so many citizens being uninformed, activists make it their mission to advocate on behalf of their community.
Marie Rattigan, a social activist and graduate of Florida A&M University, directed her focus to activism after a life-changing run-in with police at the age of 13. Instead of viewing the situation as a defeat, Rattigan used it as fuel to fight against the flaws in the system.
Her story has gained a lot of attention as she makes history while getting into “good trouble.”
Rattigan’s advocacy expands well beyond Tallahassee, as she grew up in Broward County by way of Jamaica. Her impact is everywhere, but students on FAMU’s campus often vocalize how much of a presence Rattigan left at the university.
Malik Gary, a Tallahassee organizer, worked alongside Rattigan on Dream Defenders in Tallahassee. Gary says he and everyone else in the organization were constantly inspired by her work ethic. Once she put her mind to something, it would be executed.
“I learned very quickly that Marie was a go-getter when it came to getting the job done,” Gary said. “No matter how hard it was she wanted to make a change for the community.”
After graduating with a masters of applied social sciences, with a concentration in African-American studies, Rattigan interned under the youngest female and youngest African American to be elected judge in the Second Judicial Circuit. Judge Tiffany Baker-Carper praised Rattigan and says she is destined to do great.
“Her future is so bright it blinds my eyes,” Baker-Carper said in a 2021 interview with the Tallahassee Democrat. “She is incredibly passionate … and truly has a heart for the people.”
While working at the Capitol, Rattigan was able to gain more insight into what her local community desired. Her position revealed the ins and outs of a successful campaign which inspired her to run as the youngest woman seeking a state in the state House of Representatives for District 8.
Although Rattigan did not win the primary — another FAMU grad, Gallop Franklin, did — she says her campaign alone was a big win because she still was able to serve her community and hear concerns first-hand.
“The impact will always be greater than the title and my goal is really to inspire until I expire,” Rattigan said. “While running I was able to connect with so many students from HBCUs and constituents who were just genuinely excited to see me doing this.”
Despite her campaign ending, we can still expect to see Marie Rattigan out advocating for the needs of Leon and Gadsden counties. She says the fight does not end here and next up she is studying to pass the law school admissions test. Rattigan is now working toward becoming a human rights attorney.