Harriet Tubman Will Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

The campaign Women on 20s created this mock-up image of Harriet Tubman on the $20.

Update 1:20pm — The Treasury confirmed that the five, 10, and 20 dollar bills will be updated. The five will keep Abraham Lincoln on the front and include images of Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr on the back. The 10 will keep Alexander Hamilton on the front and add images of the 1913 Women's Suffrage March and suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott to the back. The 20 will put Andrew Jackson on the back of the bill and put Harriet Tubman on the front. 

Original article —

For several years, a group called Women on 20s has been campaigning to replace Andrew Jackson’s visage on the twenty dollar bill with a woman. In an online poll of half a million people last spring, a clear choice emerged: freedom fighter Harriet Tubman.

In 2014, Obama expressed support for putting a woman on currency after a young girl wrote to him about the idea. “She gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff, which I thought was a pretty good idea,” said the president.

Now, it looks like this idea will actually become reality: Politico is reporting that the US Treasury Department is going to announce plans today to have Tubman replace Jackson the front of the $20 bill. The plans also reportedly include putting leaders of the women’s suffrage movement on the back of the $10 bill, and incorporating civil rights era leaders into the $5 bill. According to their report, Jackson will remain on the $20 bill in some form—he’ll appear somewhere on the back of the bill.

The Women on the 20s campaign says they’re excited about the news—but want to make sure the new money rolls out by 2020. “We are gratified to have sparked a conversation about the symbols and historical figures that define us as a nation,” they wrote, in a statement. Women On 20s Executive Director Susan Ades Stone added, “We had been looking to this Treasury Secretary to put a woman front and center as soon as possible and powerfully inspire the quest for gender equality going forward. In recent days reliable sources were telling us we wouldn’t see the redesigned $20 until 2030. Assuming this is true, we see today’s announcement as only a vague commitment and a continuation of the now familiar message that women have to settle for less and wait for their fair share.”

Kicking Andrew Jackson off the front of our $20s has been a long time coming, in my opinion. The former president’s greatest legacy is the Indian Removal Act—the legal justification for the Trail of Tears, which led directly to the deaths of 4,000 Cherokee people. His life and politics shouldn’t represent American values: In addition to forcibly removing thousands Native Americans from their homes, Jackson also proudly owned slaves and got rich off their labor.

Some people have spoken up to say that Tubman isn’t the right choice for being on our money, though, either. On The Root, Kirsten West Savali noted that the American economic system has not been kind to Black women. “Slapping a black female face, one of our radical icons, on a $20 bill as if it’s some attainment of the American dream would be adding insult to injury,” she wrote in 2015. “When nearly half of all single African-American women have zero or negative wealth, and their median wealth is $100—compared with just over $41,000 for single white American women—it is an insult.”

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by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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