Dallas Eagle Forum Founder
Message from LaNeil Wright Spivy, Dallas Eagle Forum's Founder
Phyllis Schlafly came to Texas in the middle seventy’s to speak to the Public Affairs Luncheon Club and was a guest for a dinner the evening before. As she explained her efforts to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), I was so impressed with her fight against all the odds, I decided I would do what I could to help her.
Shortly after that, I decided to go to the Texas Legislature and see if I could persuade a Representative to introduce a bill to rescind this amendment to our Constitution. Much to my surprise, I found a Representative who would do this and was asked to stand with him as he read his Bill to the news media. After he finished, one of the reporters looked at me and asked, “Who do you represent?” I was rather startled because I hadn’t thought about representing anyone, but thought of Phyllis and Eagle Forum, so quickly answered, “I represent Texas Eagle Forum.”
Shortly after this I was distressed that the reporter might try to check on Texas Eagle Forum, which didn’t exist, so I rushed back and called everyone I knew to have lunch at my home. I filled the dining room, living room and patio with guests. At the end of the luncheon I explained that I was organizing the Eagle Forum in Texas and would appoint officers for the Dallas group to serve for four months, after which they would hold their own election.
I seemed to be led to select Martha Chisolm, a very soft spoken southern lady from South Carolina, for President. She charmed the media and Dallas Eagle Forum seemed to be well launched.
Soon after, we chartered a bus to go to Austin and lobby the legislature to rescind the Equal Rights Amendment. We had 48 attractive young women, each assigned to call on five Representatives with the facts about ERA. The afternoon before our trip, I passed by a bucket florist and saw a barrel full of red roses which had just been thrown out. I couldn’t resist the temptation to put them in my trunk for our trip to Austin. After spending the night in the bath tub with a bottle of aspirin, the roses where fresh the next morning and were delivered to each Representative in the capitol.
A television station had requested to send a photographer on the trip and our first project enjoyed very positive news coverage. Our next project was a fashion show fundraiser held at a beautiful mansion up on a hill, which was also covered by a television station. At the end of the news that evening, they flashed a picture of that beautiful home where our fashion show had been held and ended with the words, “There were no oppressed women here today.
Realizing that I needed other chapters in Texas for our organization to be called Texas Eagle Forum, I called friends in Austin, Houston and other cities in Texas asking if they would invite twenty of their friends in for coffee during my visit. They always agreed but were hesitant when I told them that it was my purpose to organize a chapter of Eagle Forum. I assured them that if it didn’t work, there was no harm done and they were under no obligation other than to invite friends over. At each coffee, I was led to appoint the right officers, even though they were unknown to me. Most of these early Eagle’s have continued to be outstanding in Texas politics.
Two very talented friends were so impressed with the works of DEF that they wrote a book entitled, Christian Be Watchful which turned out to be a great money raiser for DEF. Lucille Dugan was chosen to be treasurer of DEF and proved to be an excellent choice through the years.
Since 1977, DEF has had ten presidents who have kept up our high standards and have been a force to be reckoned with for the conservative cause. We have been fortunate to attract people who are dedicated, hard workers and are not concerned with who gets the credit.
La Neil Wright Spivy
Dallas Eagle Forum