By: 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
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
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.