Last month we had the pleasure of conversing with Coline Jenkins, author, legislator, and great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
She shared with us her points of view about equality and the Centennial of the 19th Amendment, an achievement made possible in large part by the tireless work of her legendary great-great-grandmother.
Coline comes from a long line of courageous women with a penchant for breaking barriers. Her great grandmother, Harriot Stanton Blatch, worked as a major organizer of New York State women suffrage, and both her grandmother and mother chose professions that were dominated by men at the time (civil engineering and architecture, respectively).
With Elizabeth Caddy Stanton’s desk sitting behind her and some of her mother’s blueprints at hand, talking with Coline means being constantly reminded of the importance of fighting for equal opportunities, a mission she welcomes with joy.
“July is a great time to foment revolution,” she says with a big smile and a glint in her eye.
For Coline Jenkins, the importance of the Centennial of the 19th Amendment, which will be commemorated on Wednesday, August 26, extends beyond women’s rights.
“We celebrate the hundredth anniversary of not only the women’s right to vote but the right to vote, the universal right to vote in America guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. That is an amazing accomplishment.”
During our conversation, Coline sports a white Sedna Inspirations Celebration 2020 hat. As the co-founder and president of the Elizabeth Caddy Stanton Trust, a collection of 3,000 objects of women’s suffrage memorabilia, she understands the power objects have when it comes to bringing people together around a common cause.
“It’s Incumbent Upon Us to Make Sure That Ideas Become a Reality”
However, Coline also knows that objects can only go so far. “They’re designs, two-dimensional ideas,” she says, unrolling her mother’s blueprints and pointing to copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of Sentiments, the groundbreaking document outlining the rights of American women written primarily by her great, great grandmother in 1848.
“It’s incumbent upon you, and me, and everybody, all citizens, to make sure that the ideas become a reality, and it takes time,” she cautions.
History supports this observation. One hundred years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the struggle for equality is far from over, although an important step forward may be imminent.
“Equality of Rights Under the Law”
“I’m extremely happy that the U.S. Constitution is on the verge of being amended again,” Colin says referring to the Equal Rights Amendment proposed 48 years ago.
“There is a very, very high bar to change the Constitution. As we saw with the 19th Amendment or any change, you need a 75 percent of the states ratifying and just recently Virginia, the great state of Virginia, just ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, thereby becoming the 38th state.”
She proceeds to read aloud the phrase that this new amendment would add to the Constitution: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”
“Equality of rights under the law,” Colin repeats to herself. “That’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful concept.”