The U.S. Treasury has announced they will be replacing the slave owner Andrew Jackson on our current $20 bill with Harriet Tubman. Some encourage the change as an overdue recognition of an American hero. While others find it insulting to Tubman’s legacy — and ironic to say the least.
Considering the abolitionist idol fought the oppressive system that launched our economy, what makes us think would she would want to become a symbol of it?
The deliberation began last year when Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that in honor of the 100-year anniversary of women earning the right to vote, a woman would appear on the redesigned $10 bill scheduled for print in 2020.
In an eventful C-Span survey, Americans voted on which woman they would choose as the new face of currency. The results of the clip narrowed the choices down to Pocahontas, Princess Diana, and Harriet Tubman.
As talk of why Harriet Tubman should become the first woman to grace our paper currency. A writer known as Feminista Jones presenting a controversial counter-argument in a viral essay. Jones arguing that Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets. But instead put herself in the line of fire repeatedly to free people from being treated as currency themselves.
Tubman risking her life to ensure that the enslaved would understand that they were worth more than the blood money being exchanged to buy and sell them. Jones does not believe that Tubman, who died in poverty in 1913, would accept this as an honor.
Historians say Tubman is one of the most famous icons of the Underground Railroad conductors. Harriet was born as a slave in Maryland around 1820 and following the North Star by night to run away to Philadelphia in 1849.
After saving money as a maid for a year, she returned south to save her sister’s family, and eventually many others, from slavery. For over a decade, she risked her life by leading more than 300 slaves to freedom, on over 19 trips on the underground railroad.
Tubman is expecting to appear on the $20 bill instead of the $10 bill as previously discussed, with Jackson on the back. A Treasury spokesman could not determine when we would see the new $20 bill.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew stated in an open letter that the decision to put Harriet Tubman. On the new $20 was a proposal built by thousands of responses they receiving from Americans of all ages. Lew has been particularly amazing by the many comments. As well as the reactions from children that honor Harriet Tubman as not only a historical figure. She also is a role model for leadership and participation in our democracy.
Zoe Samudzi is a feminist writer. In Oakland sharing on Twitter her belief that the Treasury got this one wrong. She wrote that Tubman was bought and sold as property. So why is the government choosing to celebrate her by putting her face on money? Samudzi can’t stop shaking her head over the satire of an African-American woman that was bought. Then sold being ‘memorializing’ on the $20 bill, without taking steps for economic recompense for descendants of enslaved people.
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a Harvard professor of history and African-American studies, views this as a positive development. Higginbotham says that Tubman wasn’t against money and had even spent it to free others from slavery. As well as travel to the places where she had a bounty on her head multiple times. Evelyn believes Harriet Tubman used money as a way to help humanity, which says a lot about how she thinks of money.
A retired history professor at Salisbury University, Clara Small, said she expected controversy regarding the matter. Small has written about the history of slavery in Maryland and remembers the short-lived Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, which became discontinued after just 20 years in 1999.
Small wonders if a woman will ever replace one of the paper Founding Fathers. Although knowing that things happen very slowly, especially when people don’t want to see it happen. She hopes the addition of Tubman to the $20 bill is a sign of progress. And sharing that this gives her hope that maybe women will be accepting as equals, something the freedom fighter would likely approve.