UNC YAL has been busy this semester! As the hosts of the North Carolina YAL state convention, our first month was spent tabling and recruiting students to the cause of liberty.
On February 7, UNC YAL hosted the North Carolina YAL state convention at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Over 150 activists gathered to learn more about what they could do to advance the liberty movement and to hear from some of the top liberty leaders in the nation.
The activism training, led by Christopher Doss and Nancy Smith (both from the Leadership Institute), began around 9:00AM The training focused on running campaigns and three key takeaways. First, going door-to-door will always be the gold standard for grassroots activism. Second, the volunteers are the heart and soul of any grassroots campaign, so treat them well and reward them. And finally, know your base if you're running a grassroots “get out the vote” campaign, but focus on the undecided voters.
The afternoon session was dedicated to hearing from some of the top liberty leaders, and some of the pro-liberty organizations who help make our activism possible. There were three keynote speakers who delivered outstanding speeches.
Representative Walter Jones spoke to the crowd about two major issues: illegal wars and the country’s debt level. Rep. Jones spoke about his contempt for the War on Terror. He presented the audience with an image of a little girl holding a woman’s hand at a military funeral and explained how he personally feels responsible. Rep. Jones said he would never have any seniority placement on a House committee because he continues to speak out against the unconstitutional wars. Jones then connected the wars to the debt levels, and said it’s up to us to put a stop to it. One of the best moments of the day was when our president and North Carolina YAL State Chair, Alex Johnson, surprised Rep. Walter Jones with a birthday cake. All the attendees joined in and sang happy birthday to the Congressman.
John Allison, president of the Cato Institute, spoke about the differences between selfishness and altruism, and how progressives use the latter to their advantage. According to Allison, progressives interpret “equal opportunity” to mean “equal outcomes.” He further stated that society has been indoctrinated to believe that selfishness is evil. Mr. Allison refuted this stating that one must act is his or her own self-interest to survive. For example, if someone eats vegetables to improve their health (a selfish act), can it really be said they are acting with evil intent?
The final speaker, Clarence Henderson, is a man of courage. On February 2, 1960, Henderson participated in a sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina in order to call attention to segregation and other racial injustices in the United States. As he spoke, he drew from the words of many famous Americans, including Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Henderson told us about his reasons for participating in the sit-ins using two inspiring words from the Declaration of Independence, “unalienable rights.” Mr. Henderson told us that although “the fire of racism has been extinguished,” our unalienable rights are still under attack in many forms.
The convention was a success, and it gained us a few new chapter members! We were even featured in the Daily Tar Heel, which is encouraging to see on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus. Liberty is becoming more popular, and we are excited to share it with the rest of our student body this semester.
This blog post was written by UNC YAL members: Austin Bright and Alex Johnson.