On April 20, Treasury Secretary, Jacob J. Lew, announced that Harriet Tubman would be replacing President Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. Tubman will be the first African-American and first female in over a century to be represented on U.S. currency.
While Tubman will take up residence on the front of the bill, Jackson will not be removed completely, as he will appear on the back next to the image of the White House. There are also other women who will be represented alongside Harriet Tubman. On the new $10 bill, the back will include Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul, all of whom were leaders of the early 20th century suffragette movement. They all fought for women’s right to vote and run for electoral office.
Lew also announced that the $5 bill will showcase historical moments related to the Lincoln Memorial. These include Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Marian Anderson’s 1939 performance at the Memorial after her performance was refused at the segregated Constitution Hall.
Although it is an interesting event, the redesign of U.S. Currency was not meant to happen at this time. The redesign was triggered by counterfeiting threats and Lew believed that it would be smart to ask U.S. citizens for input. Originally, the redesign was going to be on the $10, but as soon as the announcement was made in June of last year, an online group known as “Women on 20s” began campaigning to have Jackson removed from the $20. This was due to his legacy of supporting slavery, the forcible relocation of Native Americans, and opposition to the national banking system and paper money. Another women’s group, “Girls Lounge” opposed this as they wanted women on the $10, knowing that it was next in line for redesign.
The $20 was chosen due to the growing support of the public, and the popularity of the Broadway musical Hamilton, which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for drama. The final designs of the new currency are set to be revealed to the public in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. The bills are set to enter into circulation later that decade.
When interviewed, Julie Salido, a history teacher at SLVHS, said that she believed it was past the time to put women on money and mentioned that it was very important and symbolic that a former slave woman is replacing a former slave owner on the $20. “There are so many important women to be celebrated in our history that deserve recognition,” said Salido. By redesigning our money, Lew and the U.S. Treasury are empowering young girls to shoot for the bigger goals. This redesign has the potential to become the most significant overhaul of U.S. currency in our history.
By Eilidh MacDonald