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  • 50 Years of Activism

    7/11/2013 10:19:21 AM Posted by Hillary Cherry

    YAF College Conference GroupBy: Anthony Hadford, Sarah T. Hermann Intern Scholar

    As we approach Young America's Foundation's Annual National Conferences, let's reflect on the history and impact of these events.

    The Commodore Hotel in New York City was home to Young Americans for Freedom's 1st National Convention in September 1962. The itinerary included a viewing of a recruitment film called "A Generation Awakes", and several seminars on "American Strategy in the Cold War, The Common Market and the Free Market, The Domestic Program of the New Deal and The Methodology of Political Action." There were roughly 200 students from over 30 states. Delegates worked hard to adopt a set of resolutions to strengthen the Sharon Statement (the already established founding document of Young Americans for Freedom). This conference set high standards for future conventions, and showed the American people that the youth involved in Young Americans for Freedom were prepared to fight for conservatism around the country.

    Liberals were desperate and began to undermine the force of the invigorated YAFers. Robert Martinson of The Nation said, "Much of YAF strength is ephemeral and will disappear." Martinson was off by a long-shot.

    For the next 35 years, Young Americans for Freedom held conferences in New York City, Fort Lauderdale, Washington D.C, Pittsburgh, Rosslyn, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego and other cities around the country. Their presence was felt at conservative conferences, such as CPAC, and other events promoting conservative leaders like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

    In 1979 when Ron Robinson, then Executive Director of Young Americans for Freedom, became the President of Young America's Foundation, the Foundation was prepared to advance their educational programs for young people and better equip students with resources to fight for conservatism at their schools. Under Mr. Robinson's leadership, Young Americans for Freedom has become part of Young America's Foundation.

    Young America's Foundation held the first National Conservative Student Conference in 1979 with the purpose of educating students how to engage liberal professors and students in dialogue, organize and operate activism projects, and host high caliber speakers to speak at their schools. This effort has gradually increased into a phenomena unseen in any other organization. According to A Generation Awake by Wayne Thorburn's, "In 2008 alone, more than 500,000 individuals attended 631 lectures sponsored by Young America's Foundation."

    This summer Young America's Foundation will hold the 35th Annual National Conservative Student Conference from July 29 to August 3. Students will have the opportunity to hear leading figures in the conservative movement (including Dr. Ben Carson, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator Rick Santorum, and Senator Mike Lee) and learn from top scholars in the academic world (such as Robert P. George and Dr. Burt Folsom).

    The legacy of Young Americans for Freedom and their mission continues in Young America's Foundation's national conference each summer. There is no other conservative event for young people in the nation that compares to the conferences hosted by Young America's Foundation. And it is, without a doubt, an experience that students will carry with themselves as they battle liberal ideas on their campus.


    *Anthony is a second year student at the University of Virginia planning to double major in economics and finance.

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