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September 21, 2023

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Twelve year old political activist speaks on campus

Madison Kimrey has been interested in politics since she was a baby. She grew up watching President Bush on TV and would scream, “Bush! Bush!” each time he came on the screen. Last year, Kimrey became involved in social and political activism and many are taking notice.

Kimrey, who advocates for youth voting rights in her home state, has seen her popularity surge since a YouTube video of her giving a speech in October went viral. The speech expressed her frustration with North Carolina Governor Pat McRory and asked him to sit-down and discuss renewing pre-registration voting rights for teenagers.

Dr. Mary Krueger, director of the Women’s Center, said the program reached out to Kimrey after someone brought up the YouTube video during a committee meeting.

“We looked at [the video] and thought, ‘She’s the one.’” Krueger said.

The Women’s Center and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program hosted speaker Madison Kimrey, a 12-year-old activist from North Carolina, as the keynote event for Women’s History Month. The two campus organizations established the theme “Girl Culture” for their Women’s History Month events.

The program titled, “Only Six Years Until I’m an Adult: My Life as a Teenage Activist,” detailed Kimrey’s social activism to date., an online petition website, named Kimrey as MoveOn’s Youngest Leader after her petition amassed over 12,000 signatures. She also appeared on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC soon after.

Kimrey, a homeschool student, traveled to the University with her mom and gave her speech as a homework assignment.

To cut through the clutter in social and political activism, Kimrey said her age serves as an advantage.

“It’s because I’m so young. There aren’t many 12-year-olds talking about this stuff.” Kimrey said.

Kimrey first participated in social activism after hearing about the Hands-On Children’s Museum in Jacksonville who refused to acknowledge same-sex couples with children as being families. Kimrey traveled to Jacksonville to join the protests there.

Governor McRory continued to belittle Kimrey’s campaigning efforts after calling on him to meet and accused liberal groups of using her as a prop to manipulate the masses.

The Governor did little to quiet Kimrey’s voice.

“I couldn’t care less [about McRory],” Kimrey said. “He’s the least of my priorities now.”

A self-proclaimed liberal, Kimrey maintains her online voice via her blog, “Functioning Human Being,” which serves as an outlet for her personal opinions on a variety of issues.

Kimrey also inspired her friends to write their own blogs and make their voices heard on other topics that affect them like bullying and suicide.

“Teenagers are more aware than we think,” said Sarah Rainey, Assistant Professor for the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies program.

Kimrey proved she’s aware of current events and issues during her talk which gave a timeline of the progress she’s made in her home state since she began speaking out last fall.

North Carolina Youth Rock is the name of Kimrey’s on-going project to restore pre-registration rights and is currently navigating the roadmap to become an official non-profit organization.

However, Kimrey said she doesn’t have any concrete plans to run for office in the future.

“Maybe for governor someday, but not president,” she said.

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