By Wayne Thorburn
In September 1960, a new organization came into being. It would be the first national grass-roots conservative political group that would subsequently launch many other components of what became the conservative movement in the United States. Organized by college students and young adults, Young Americans for Freedom would play an important role in the politics of the last forty years of the 20th century. After a period of decline around the turn of the new century, Young Americans for Freedom is once again a vibrant and active force on many high school and college campuses. The following pages provide a brief history of Young Americans for Freedom and its contributions to the development of conservatism in America. Much of this work includes material previously presented in more detail in A Generation Awakes: Young Americans for Freedom and the Creation of the Conservative Movement. Those wishing more detail on YAF s history are directed to that earlier work. However, since its publication Young Americans for Freedom has become associated with Young America s Foundation and had a rebirth of activity not apparent when the previous work was published in 2010. Thus, an updated history of the organization that reflects its activities over the past fifty-five years is appropriate. This work would not have been possible without the contributions of literally hundreds of former members of Young Americans for Freedom who shared their recollections and experiences from their time of involvement in the organization. Their comments and observations have aided greatly in telling the story of Young Americans for Freedom and its contributions to the development of the conservative movement. Patrick Coyle, Vice President of Young America s Foundation, is due immense thanks for his efforts to collect material on Young Americans for Freedom over the past fifteen years, including his efforts to rebuild the organization after its acquisition by the Foundation in 2011. Likewise, this work would not have been possible, nor would the earlier history, A Generation Awakes, without the encouragement and support of Ron Robinson and the financial assistance of Young America s Foundation. Young Americans for Freedom: Igniting a Movement is not simply a recitation of past times in American political history. While it does discuss much that occurred in the latter half of the 20th century, it is also a call to continued commitment, growth, learning, and involvement in the current century. Generations come and go, but Young Americans for Freedom continues as a force for preserving and extending conservative principles as new generations become leaders in American society.