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. 


We Asked for the 20 and We Got Half of the 10.

I’m sure you’ve heard the news. There will be a female face on the $10 bill by 2020… well, the woman will actually share that spot on the least-used bill with Hamiltion. Whoop-di-fucking-whoo. 100,000 people voted to have a woman on the $20, not half, of the least-used bill. Thanks for nothing, Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew. Thanks for the big, public, slap in the face.

It is just maddening. I cashier at a grocery store, and $20s pass through mine and customers hands like wild fire. Looking in my till I see a constant stack of 20s. The middle slot where 10s are supposed to go is nearly always empty. I used to think that soon, giving back change to a customer would consist of giving them back a Harriet Tubman Twenty.

Having the face of a historical woman on our currency would reflect values in our society and would point to a certain level of mutual respect and value. But now, my heart honestly breaks a little bit every time someone asks for cash back in the form of a Jackson twenty.

Like my friend, Victoria Way, eloquently put it:

“The fact that, if the roles were reversed, men wouldn’t settle for the least used bill but women seem to be adopting the ‘better than nothing’ mentality is so sad.”

Someone else stated: “Placing a woman on a bill with Alexander Hamilton makes the same sexist statement that our currency has made all along—that a woman cannot be independent or important without a man.”

The hashtag #thenew10 is being used to promote the new ten. I say we flood the hashtag with comments like these, and let our opinions be known:

100,000 people voted to have a woman on the 20 and you’re giving us half of the least used bill?! I’m ashamed of my government #thenew10.

On a more positive note, maybe we can keep this sad little offer from Secretary Lew but also push for a woman on the $20 and have two women on currency. But we’ve got to fight for it and have our voices heard.

Check out this New Yorker article for another great summation.

A Female Figure on the Twenty Dollar Bill

“That a woman’s likeness is missing from many of our daily experiences, including paper money says we don’t accept women as equal, valuable or worthy as a society…” Says Barbara Ortiz Howard, a woman on a mission to get a woman on the 20 dollar bill. Andrew Jackson is currently on the 20 and is a controversial figure considering he passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. Not to mention the tremendous irony his face has resided on the bill for so long considering he opposed paper money all together and made it a mission of his presidency to destroy the National Bank.

Howard is getting the conversation started and creating a campaign to get a prominent female figure on our 20. Starting march 1st, the public can vote here on which figure they would like to see in their wallet. What does it take to get a new face on our money? The Secretary of Treasury usually has the final say and getting the President to request a change is what it takes. Wouldn’t it be great if there was at least one female face in a crowd of white (green) guys on our bills?


“Jackson Vetoes Bank Bill — July 10, 1832”. Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia.http://millercenter.org/president/events/07_10 Retrieved Feb 12 2015

“Heads Up Andrew… This Woman Is On A Historic Crusade To Get A Woman On The 20 Dollar Bill” WYSK. Feb 11 2015. Retrieved Feb 12 2015 http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/heads-andrew-woman-historic-crusade-get-woman-20-dollar-bill/

“Money 101” W20 Campaign. 2015. Retrieved feb 12 2015. http://www.womenon20s.org/money_101