On September 11, 1960, a group of conservatives gathered at the home of William F. Buckley, Jr. in Sharon, Connecticut, to form what would become the Conservative Movement’s most influential group of activists: Young Americans for Freedom.
The Sharon Statement, YAF’s founding document, was drafted at this important meeting highlighting the importance of the timeless principles of free enterprise, limited government, a strong national defense, and traditional values. The Washington Post describes the Sharon Statement as “a declaration of principles of modern conservatism,” while the New York Times called it the “seminal document in bringing different kinds of conservatives together.”
Since its founding six decades ago, YAF has led the Conservative Movement in championing the values conservatives hold so dearly – and not being afraid to make a splash, while doing it.
YAF’s impact on the Conservative Movement is indisputable– from its Rally for World Liberation from Communism that drew 18,000 people to Madison Square Garden; to a successful boycott against Firestone Tires which forced the company to abandon its plans to build a rubber plant in Communist Romania; to a successful Supreme Court victory in Boos v. Barry, overturning a 50-year-old law barring protests outside of embassies.
YAF launched the careers of many successful leaders, including 84th U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Representative Ed Royce, David Keene, Deroy Murdock, Michelle Easton, Dr. Lee Edwards, and many others. Indeed, key YAF activists founded many leading organizations, including the American Conservative Union, the Fund for American Studies, American Spectator, Young America’s Foundation, and the Clare Boothe Luce Center for Conservative Women among many others.
Today, Young Americans for Freedom is now a project of Young America’s Foundation, and the vital work of carrying the torch of freedom continues. With hundreds of high school and college chapters across the nation, Young Americans for Freedom’s legacy lives on. Bold activists push back against leftist orthodoxy on campus, organizing activism events including the 9/11: Never Forget Project and Freedom Week, and hosting breakthrough conservative speakers such as Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles, and Rachel Campos-Duffy.
Ronald Reagan, a longtime ally and honorary national chairman of Young Americans for Freedom for more than 40 years, once noted, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” As YAF reflects on its 60 years of inspiring activism, the need for our work is more apparent than ever–standing firm against threats to our liberties, and ensuring freedom’s principles are passed on to the next generation.