Harriet Tubman Changes Society Once Again

IIP Photo Archive Photo, Courtesy of Flickr
IIP Photo Archive Photo, Courtesy of Flickr

U.S. currency is about to get a serious makeover. Last Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced a proposed plan to add women and civil rights leaders to the $5 and $10 bills, and to replace seventh U.S. president Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. The new $20 bill will be unveiled in 2020, but this is only one of the many changes that will occur to U.S. currency in the coming years.

This change currency came about after a group called Women on 20s launched a campaign which petitioned for a woman to be placed on the $20 bill. The petition asked President Barack Obama to, “change the current portrait portrayed on our American $20 bank note to reflect the remarkable accomplishments of an exemplary American woman who has helped shape our Nation’s great history.”

The campaign soon gained support from New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who then introduced the idea to the Senate. The Washington Post reported that Shaheen conceived a proposal that would require the Treasury to “convene a panel of citizens” to talk about the currency change.

U.S. currency and the figures that it features directly reflect American culture and its ideals. The exclusive feature of men on our bills perpetuates the idea that men are more elevated in American culture. Men have always been the face of U.S. bills, but this is starting to change. U.S. currency always features figures who are regarded as American heroes in an effort to honor their deeds. Despite this, neither females nor people of color have ever been rewarded this honor.

Maryland GovPics Photo, Courtesy of Flickr
Maryland GovPics Photo, Courtesy of Flickr

Harriet Tubman is an American hero if there ever was one. Once a slave, she escaped to freedom and helped to free hundreds of other slaves from the inhumane oppression that they were facing, even after her her escape. As a woman of color, Harriet Tubman will be making history once again, as she will grace the front of the $20 in 2020.

In addition to Tubman, the new currency will feature influential women such as Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the back of the $5 and $10 bills. Along with these portraits, the backs of $10 bills are proposed to feature a “depiction of a 1913 march in support of women’s right to vote that ended at the building.” Similarly, the backs of the $5 bills are proposed to feature Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Marian Anderson.

Inclusivity is becoming a widespread topic across the country, which is a notion that our currency is starting to reflect. The recent conversations about racial and gender equality are transforming American society. Many more influential people apart of marginalized groups are starting to get the recognition that they deserve. The proposal for Harriet Tubman to be placed on the $20 bill, as well as other influential women and civil rights activists, is an inspiring idea that is leading America into an optimistic future. Nothing can right the wrongs of the past, but proper recognition for all races and genders is a great step towards the inclusivity that many Americans desire.

Feature Image: Philip Taylor Photo, Courtesy of Flickr URL