The US treasury is taking steps to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, as was planned under Former President Barack Obama.
Back in 2016, President Barack Obama decided that Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill by 2020, leading to celebrations that a former enslaved person would replace a slave owner on the nation’s currency. He launched the effort to get Tubman on the bill after receiving a letter from a girl from Massachusetts in 2014, saying women should appear on currency.
The move was delayed under Former President Donald Trump, who called it “pure political correctness,” and said at the time that Jackson “had a great history.” He suggested Tubman could be put on the $2 bill instead.
Harriet Tubman was a 19th-century abolitionist and political activist who escaped slavery herself and led hundreds to freedom along the Underground Railroad from 1850-1860, of which she earned the title of ‘conductor.’ For her efforts, Tubman became known as the ‘Moses of her people.’ Tubman is also the subject of several recent biographies and a 2019 film called ‘Harriet’.
For years, critics have called for Jackson to be removed from the bill because of his legacy of supporting institutionalized slavery, and his responsibility for the ‘Trail of Tears,’ the violent transfer of thousands of Native Americans from the South in 1830.
Despite the last administration’s refusal to honor Tubman, President Joe Biden has now decided to revive the efforts.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the treasury was “exploring ways to speed up” the process, adding that “It’s important that our money reflect the history and diversity of our country.”
Although many Black Americans are excited about this tribute to Tubman, others see it as a sign of disrespect. They feel that putting Tubman on legal tender ignores the fact that slaves in the U.S. were treated as fungible commodities and defeats the purpose.
After conducting a survey via Instagram, 88% of students agreed that Tubman should be put on the $20 dollar bill, while 12% disagreed. One student said, “It’s too performative. They’re going to put her on the bill and be like, ‘We’ve done enough.’ Another said, “It’s about time. I’m tired of seeing white mens’ faces everywhere.”
No woman or person of color has been portrayed on a denotation of US paper currency. However, Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement, was featured on $1 coins which were previously issued. (USMint)