Reflecting upon the history of Young Americans for Freedom
(YAF) activism efforts in decades past, I feel proud to be working
with an organization that has helped young adults make a difference
for the conservative cause for over 50 years. It is truly amazing
to realize that YAFers were the driving force behind Barry
Goldwater’s rise to prominence and how they held the “Rally for
World Liberation from Communism” in 1962 that 18,500 students
attended at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
It is incredible that so many young
conservatives were in one place and united under one cause.
Sometimes, it feels as if we must ask ourselves the following
question in this age of progressivism and apathy: are there even
18,500 conservative students in America today? The answer is yes,
but are they engaged in the movement?
Even during the liberal decades of
the 60s and 70s, young conservatives were able to make a difference
for their generation. Those students went on to become leaders of
organizations such as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the
NRA, and the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, just to name a few.
But what about my generation’s activism efforts?
The answer is that the activism of
young people in the Conservative Movement today would make proud
those who stood in Madison Square Garden in 1962. Their bold
efforts have inspired activism in young people for the past 50
For example, Grant Strobl, a Young
Americans for Freedom chapter chair brought prominent businessman
Steve Forbes to his high school campus this past year, inspiring
1300 students about the virtues of free enterprise. The Penn State
Young Americans for Freedom chapter stood up for conservative
values this past semester as it protested the school’s “Free Speech
Zones” by creating a new zone in an unapproved area
Young adults made a difference then,
and now, we are making a difference because we believe in a common
cause. I think that we forget how important our voice is and how
influential we can be. Activism is just as important now, or even
more so, than it was in 1962. With young people participating in
activism, YAF’s efforts and your efforts are crucial to seeing that
our generation is a force for the Conservative Movement, not one
College students made a difference
in 1962. Our generation is making a difference as well. YAFers
across the country are bringing in conservative speakers to their
liberal campuses participating at the Ronald Reagan Ranch Center
and Washington D.C. to learn about conservative values, and
participating in activism initiatives on their campuses. It is up
to the YAFers of today, while taking the cue from the YAFers of
decades past, to make sure that our generation is making
a positive difference.
Written by Haley Jones, Chairwoman of the College of the Ozarks Young Americans for Freedom chapter and a Sarah T.
Hermann intern scholar for Young America’s Foundation