Harriet Tubman on the $20
On Wed. April 20, White House Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that Andrew Jackson will be replaced by Harriet Tubman on the bill.
Not only is Tubman the first African-American to grace American currency, she is the first woman to become the face of a bill since Martha Washington, who was briefly on the $1 silver certificate in the 19th century.
“The decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 bill was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old,” Lew said. “Harriet Tubman is not just a historical figure, but a role model for leadership and participation in our democracy.”
Last year Lew announced that Alexander Hamilton would be taken off the $10 bill, but because of the popularity of the Broadway musical, Hamilton, written and starred in by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton remained on the bill.
“Will someone write a musical about Andrew Jackson to save him?” Junior Elena Conoly said. “A musical about a slave owner, who in his presidency, caused the Trail of Tears. Instant Broadway hit.”
While some are celebrating what is considered to be an advancement of our society by including a minority on bills, others believe it is ironic that a person whose legacy is rooted in resisting American capitalism will become the face of it.
“Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets,” Writer Feminista Jones said. “She repeatedly put herself in the line of fire to free people who were treated as currency themselves. She risked her life to ensure that enslaved black people would know they were worth more than the blood money that exchanged hands to buy and sell them. I do not believe Tubman, who died impoverished in 1913, would accept the honor.”
This is considered an advancement not only because a minority race is becoming the face of the $20, but also because it is a social advancement for women also.
“It is just absolutely beautiful to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman,” Kari Winter, a professor at the University at Buffalo said. “Because where Jackson represented the worst side of American history, Tubman represents the best ideals of American democracy.”
Putting Tubman on the bill is one way to show that America is advancing towards a more diverse nation, but some believe there is still more work to be done.
“This whole thing is symbolic politics,” Andra Gillespie, a professor at Emory University said. “Putting women on currency is not going to change the gender pay gap and not going to change the fact that the pay gap is worse for black women and women of color.”