RFT Asks: How Did Precious Barry Become a Youth Activist?

The Riverview Gardens senior dedicated her life to advocacy at age 15 because of the George Floyd movement

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click to enlarge Precious Barry holds a microphone and papers as she speaks to a crowd.
Precious Barry, 17, is a youth activist in St. Louis.

At the age of seventeen, Precious Barry already has a robust resume. The Riverview Gardens senior has served as a youth outreach coordinator for Cori Bush, a sex-ed intern for Pro-Choice Missouri and a member of the St. Louis County Youth Advisory Council. She published an op-ed in the St. Louis American, started her own podcast and spoke at an NAACP dinner. Most importantly, every day Barry strives to be an activist.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you get involved in activism?

In 2020, after the George Floyd movement, I was fifteen at the time. I really didn't know what was going on in my society. And I figured out, "Hey ... being so young, how can I help develop and be an inspiration to a lot of youth to speak out about police brutality?" Because I just knew it was wrong.

Before George Floyd, had you thought about activism?

Yeah, I was always, like, doing those history day projects [chuckles]. ... I would compete at National History Day, doing poster boards on the Central Park Five or the bombing in Birmingham. So I never thought I would be where I am today just by doing those history projects, but I've always had this passion to know about my history.

What are your goals?

Yeah, so I have a few goals, so bear with me. One, of course, is to run for office, probably state rep or mayor or U.S. Senate. That's my political goal. But I see that in the probably near future, when I'm like 30-something. I just got accepted to [the political science program at] Howard University. ... And I really want to be a political commentator, so I want a minor in broadcast journalism.

You have a lot of responsibilities. Does it feel like a lot of pressure?

I'm human. I always tell people that I had to learn — and that I'm still learning — to have boundaries. ... It's OK to say no to some of those opportunities because you have to take care of yourself. Self-care is number one, key. That's one thing that I try to advocate for young people, is [to guard] their mental health.

So what do you do to relax?

My favorite show is ... called Abbott Elementary. ... I love 9-1-1, too, on Fox. I'm a big motivational person, so I love watching different types of church sermons or motivational speeches ... I'm [also] reading a book right now [by] Michelle Obama, The Light We Carry, that just came out. 

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