Phyllis Schlafly first came to my attention when I was a college coed during the years of the battle over the ERA. I admired Phyllis Schlafly. I admired her courage. In my mind, she was on the front lines of the battle, leading the charge. When the media made it look as though Phyllis was standing way out there all alone, I knew deep down she was fighting for women like my mom and me. I had grown up in an orthodox Catholic, politically conservative home; my parents both supported Goldwater, and my dad vehemently opposed Communism. My college roommate came from the other end of the political spectrum, and so we did not see eye-to-eye on the ERA. But I was up to my eyeballs in chemistry, physics, and math (not to mention the blossoming relationship that would lead to marriage after graduation) and had no time for ERA debates apart from the late night ones with my roommate.
I lived the life Phyllis fought so hard to preserve for American women, staying home to raise my own family after college, while never giving so much as a thought to Phyllis or the battle she fought against the ERA. When my youngest child left for college some twenty-five years later, I went to graduate school in St. Louis. It was there that Phyllis came to my attention once again. My advisor and mentor knew her personally; in fact, he was writing a book about her: Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism. When I decided on the ERA battle as the topic for my dissertation, he introduced me to Phyllis. She was very gracious. She allowed me to view her archives for some of my research, and consented to answer my questions—even sometimes when she was working away at her computer. She steered me to other people with firsthand knowledge of the ERA battle. Phyllis’ help was invaluable and her participation enriched me both personally and professionally. For that I will always be grateful.
Phyllis Schlafly continues to crusade for causes that are important to all Americans . . . or ought to be. I marvel at her confidence and her energy. And thirty years from now, I hope to be working with as much confidence and . . . well, maybe half as much energy.
Cynthia Stachecki, PhD