GREAT FALLS — Friday, June 11, marks the birthdate of Jeannette Rankin, and the foundation that bears her name says it’s a great day to memorialize her on money as part of a new campaign by the U.S. Mint.
“They are going to put 20 different women on the quarter and the opportunity to shine a light on the incredible things that Jeannette Rankin did during her life and that are still so relevant today is just an incredible opportunity,” said Jeannette Rankin Foundation CEO Karen Sterk.
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The mint has already announced poet Maya Angelou and astronaut Sally Ride as honorees in the American Women Quarters Program. The Jeannette Rankin Foundation hopes the groundbreaking Montana member of Congress will join them.
Rankin, who infamously voted against entry into both World Wars, served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, first in 1917 and again in 1941. She was the only female member of Congress when she voted for the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote. Sterk says Rankin’s principles still resonate today.
“Those include education and labor and women’s and children’s rights,” said Sterk. “So I think it’s just really important to shine a light on what she did.”
While she’s synonymous with Montana history, Rankin spent much of her life in Athens, Georgia, which is where the foundation is based. Rankin was dedicated to helping women workers achieve success which helped lead to the development of her foundation.
“We give scholarships to low-income women over the age of 35 for post-secondary education and we’re a national foundation we’ve got scholars in all 50 states, we’ve been doing this for 45 years,” said Sterk. “We’ve given out well over a thousand scholarships in the amount of $3.6 million and an estimated economic impact for those women in additional wages of about $400 million.”
More than 100 years after her first term in Congress, almost 80 years since her second term and nearly a half century after her death, and the “Vote For Jeannette” rally cry is still being heard.
Voting is already underway online on the foundation website.