Harriet Tubman to Change the Face of U.S. Currency
Abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman will be featured on the front of a new $20 bill. Tubman now makes history as the first woman highlighted prominently on U.S. paper currency.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in an open letter on Wednesday the decision to put Tubman on the new $20 “was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old.”
Last year, a public campaign asked for a woman to be placed on American paper currency. Groups such as Women On 20s (W20) petitioned President Barack Obama to make this change in order for a new bill to be circulated before the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020.
“I have been particularly struck by the many comments and reactions from children for whom Harriet Tubman is not just a historical figure, but a role model for leadership and participation in our democracy,” Lew wrote.
The new $20 note will keep an image of former President Andrew Jackson on the back.
#HarrietTubman began to trend on Twitter Wednesday with posts praising Lew’s announcement.
NAACP (@NAACP) April 20, 2016
Loving that #HarrietTubman is a trending topic in 2016. Hope it sparks more people to research her story. She was an amazing woman.
Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) April 20, 2016
However, some debated whether Tubman, a former slave and Union army nurse who worked to liberate African Americans from slavery, should share a spot on U.S. currency with Jackson, who was a slaveholder. He also supportedpolicies that led to the deaths of numerousNative Americans.
L. Joy Williams (@ljoywilliams) April 21, 2016
Laura Potts (@lpottsUEA) April 21, 2016
Meanwhile, others, such as former GOP presidential candidate turned Donald Trump supporter, Ben Carson, complained Tubman will diminish the value of the currency.
“Maybe she should be on a bill that’s worth less” Carson said Wednesday on Fox Business Network’s Cavuto Coast to Coast.
“Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually balanced the federal budget, where we had no national debt,” Carson said. “In honor of that, we kick him off of the money.”
He also said he “loves” Tubman and what she did, “But we can find another way to honor her. Maybe a $2 bill.”
Actor and activist Jeffrey Wright, who played Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2001 film “Boycott,” tweeted a message for people opposed to Tubman on currency:
And yeah, to those who have issue w/ #HarrietTubman on a US bank note, as tho she diminishes value, I’m offering $15 for all ur Tubman 20s.
Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) April 21, 2016
Lew and the treasury department deliberated for months on whether to replace either Founding Father and first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill or Jackson on the $20 bill.
As a result, $10, as well as $5 notes, will also be redesigned. The new $10 bill will keep Hamilton on the front but the back will feature leaders of the women’s suffrage movement such as Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Lucretia Mott,Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth.
Incorporated into the $5 bill will be prominent Americans including opera singerMarian Anderson, Dr. King and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.Lew said the new bills are scheduled to be completed by 2020.