Tubman on the Twenty!


Leaders of the grassroots movement, Women on 20s, in front of an artistic image of the Tubman Twenty: Photo credit, Women on 20s

I’m sure you’ve already heard the news: Harriet Tubman will be the face of the twenty! Move over genocidal Jackson; make way for lady humanitarian/abolitionist Tubman! It all started with a grassroots movement about a year ago, called Women on 20s. (Back in 2015, I reported on the movement here, when it was first gaining momentum.) More than half a million people voted to have a woman on the twenty dollar bill and to have a woman occupy visual space in our economy and modern world. The importance of having women represented in all facets of life, and not relegated to the background, cannot be understated. And so, having the amazing Harriet Tubman on the twenty, matters that much more. What is especially fitting is the fact that Tubman was paid twenty dollars for her service in the Civil War.  Also, the back of the new ten will feature an image of the suffragette icons. 

There is only one article of opposition getting attention, titled Keep Harriet Tubman, and all women, off the $20 bill, which just makes me think more about some women who have pushed women’s rights backwards, throughout history. The author states reasons such as “American capitalism historically has been used to oppress and disenfranchise women and people of color.” Exactly! That is why it is so powerful for women, particularly women of color, to occupy that space and take control of it. The more representation women have, in a positive way, in mainstream society, the more we can do to create a better world where no-one is disenfranchised.

At first, the U.S Treasury, headed by Jack Lew, basically said, we hear you, half a million people! We’ll put a woman on the…. ten. The leased used bill. And frankly, it was an insult. But when TIME ran an article headlining “The Back of the Bill is Like the Back of the Bus for Women” The U.S Treasury backed off, basically saying, Ok OK! Crap you’re right, here’s the twenty. And so the fight was won! But, what is bizarre, is that they will keep an image of Jackson, a slave holder, on the back. THAT I do not understand.