by Cynthia Toney
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” Thomas Jefferson
While some young liberals of the 1960’s were “finding” themselves in drugs, free love and violence, 90 young conservatives met at the Sharon, Connecticut estate of William F. Buckley Jr. to lay the groundwork for the first national conservative youth organization, Young Americans for Freedom.
Since that time, America’s conservative youth continue to speak the unabashed truth – for all of us.
Listed below are a few of the organizations for young people and what they are doing to help keep our Republic strong and sovereign.
The history of Young Americans for Freedom is both longstanding and interesting. Soon after the organization began, it spearheaded the 1964 Presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, each one helping to define the other. In the 1970’s, the organization started a number of projects to support Vietnam veterans and their causes and joined forces with the American Conservative Union to form the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
During the Reagan years, Young Americans for Freedom mobilized to support the President’s agenda and defend the administration’s conservative officials and appointees who were targeted by the Left. Never a stranger to international issues, the organization battled Communism and promoted the cause of freedom on college campuses.
The group continues to be in the forefront of the hottest political issues in the current century, leading the crusade to impeach Attorney General Janet Reno, the rally against Eric Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 terrorists as domestic criminals and the opposition to Barack Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. (www.yaf.com/about/history)
Young Americans for Freedom publishes The New Guard magazine with a volunteer staff. It is supported through ad sales and donations from individuals and organizations, such as 60 Plus Association and The Heritage Foundation.
The “Sharon Statement,” penned at the organization’s birth, states among its principles: “We, as young conservatives, believe… that the Constitution of the United States is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power…”
In 1969, Vanderbilt University students formed a group called “University Information Services” to provide other students with conservative ideas not included in their college educations. The group was renamed “Young America’s Foundation” in 1971. The organization’s main goal is to bring conservative speakers to college campuses. (www.yaf.org)
The Young America’s Foundation mission is to ensure “that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values.”
The foundation fought for and won a number of notable political battles, including the right of access to Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) programs on college campuses.
It publishes original works such as Columbus on Trial, which was written in response to the attacks on Columbus and the European discovery of America.
Young America’s Foundation began the National High School Leadership Conference, the first of several programs of its kind to assist high school students in learning more about conservative ideas.
In 2003, the foundation launched the 9/11: Never Forget Project to ensure the anniversary of those murdered by radical Islamists is remembered on college and high school campuses.
Young America’s Foundation enjoyed a long relationship with Ronald Reagan, starting when he was Governor of California. Today, the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara “brings conservative ideas to life” for conservative students; teaching young people about freedom, free enterprise, and traditional values.
Often called “GenJ” by its members, Generation Joshua is a Christian youth organization for children aged 11 to 19. Its aim is to encourage young people to learn about history and civics and to become involved in government and politics. Founded in 2003, it is a division of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA.org). Most of its members have been home schooled.
Generation Joshua “wants America to be a perpetual city on a hill, a beacon of biblical hope to the world around us.” The organization for teenagers seeks “to inspire every one of our members with faith in God and a hope of what America can become as we equip Christian citizens and leaders to impact our nation for Christ and for His glory.”
Efforts by members of GenJ have had an impact on major campaigns and elections, such as the win by Bobby Jindal for Governor of Louisiana. Local Generation Joshua clubs work to improve their communities and can receive training to register citizens to vote. Online courses help youth “understand the history and founding of America.” Two annual summer camps teach attendees leadership skills and provide a better understanding of the political issues of the day.
Generation Joshua is set to “shape the course of American politics.”
Up-and-coming groups worth watching:
The A-Team: Tea Party Movement Club (www.ATeamYouth.org) of Glen A. Wilson High School, Hacienda Heights, California. “The first Tea Party high school movement in America” Mission: Protect American values, fight against socialism, protect democracy, capitalism and stop government overspending.
The Founding Children: The Tea Party for Patriotic Teens All Over America (http://teaparty4teens.org/index.html) based in Arizona. Welcome Message: “Stand up and unite with your like-minded peers to defend and preserve the divinely inspired ideas of our Founding Fathers!”
As Thomas Jefferson said,
“Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
Cynthia Toney is a Contributing Writer and Editor, The Bold Pursuit
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