Harriet Tubman, a former slave famous for leading others to freedom via the Underground Railroad, will be replacing Andrew Jackson, the seventh US president known for his extreme feelings of white supremacy, on the front of the US $20 bill.
After a year of heated debates, Jacob J. Lew, Treasury Secretary, finally convinced critics that an alteration was needed on the US $20 bill. The modified bills will be distributed in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
The new portrait will be a symbol and statement for the greater changes to come for women’s equality and civil rights. With a woman on the face of currency, the views on the rights of women in society and their political, social and economic equality will be easier to see.
THE NEW BILLS
Besides the $20 bill, alterations will be made to the $5 and $10 bills as well. Scenes of civil rights movements and important events in the history behind the freedom given to American now will be featured.
The back of the $10 bill, which now pictures the US Treasury building, will be replaced with a scene of a march in support of women’s rights in 1913. Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, all woman civil rights leaders, will be featured.
On the back of the $5 bill, Marian Anderson, a young girl who made a big difference in the fight for racial equality, Eleanor Roosevelt, a human rights activist who used her status as a president’s wife for good, and Martin Luther King, Jr., the voice and leader of human rights, will be pictured.
Lew presented the new additions in order “to bring to life” the national monuments pictured on the bills and to display more humble and diverse faces of America.
For over a year, advocates of women’s equality have been pushing for the replacement of Andrew Jackson’s portrait with a female icon. The decision on Harriet Tubman, a woman who fought both for the equality of her gender and race, to be the new face has stirred up excitement and made an impressive statement on civil rights movements.
Women on 20s is “a non-profit, grassroots organization which aims to compel historic change by convincing President Obama that now is the time to put a woman’s face on our paper currency,” with the single goal of making a woman the face of the $20 bill.
This organization created an online, public voting process to gather a public opinion of what the alterations should consist of. With over 600,000 votes, Harriet Tubman came out with the win over other leaders including Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Wilma Mankiller, and others.
The organization then presented President Obama with a petition encouraging him to make the adjustments in time for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
“It seems fitting to commemorate that milestone by voting to elevate women to a place that is today reserved exclusively for the men who shaped American history,” said the leaders of Women on 20s.
Putting a woman, specifically a black woman, is seen as some sort of “slap in the face” to racists and people against the advancements of races and women. Exchanging Andrew Jackson’s portrait, one of power, money, persecution to Harriet Tubman, one of freedom, equality, and civil rights, is a positive step for America.
US citizens tend to imagine why it takes so long for their government to move forward with progress, and this adjustment finally gives them a solution they’ve been searching for.
In letters written to the Treasury Department on the Los Angeles Times, citizens give their opinion on the changes.
“Having a woman’s face, and a black woman’s face no less, on the $20 bill will lift the status of women everywhere. It’s impossible to imagine how this will affect some cultures in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, especially those in places where a woman’s face must be covered,” said Jacqueline Kerr of Los Feliz.
“As an African American man, I am thrilled. These changes are long overdue. The year 2020 for these changes to be effective makes them even longer overdue. I sure hope I am blessed to live and experience these new changes,” said Camden, N.J., Wayne E. Williams.