Anti-slavery Activist Harriet Tubman beat other potential candidates; former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights activist Rosa Parks and leader of the Cherokee nation Wilma Mankiller; to secure a spot in becoming the first woman to appear on a US banknote for more than a century.
She will replace former American President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill at some undisclosed time in the future. Jackson will be moved to the back of the bill, a fact which will bode well for a number of interesting discussions in the future. This is because while Harriet Tubman has a legacy for her operations as part of the Underground Railroad, a network of antislavery abolitionists who guided countless enslaved persons to freedom from bondage and her role in the US civil war; where she operated as a scout for the Union forces, often behind enemy lines, Jackson’s legacy is vastly different.
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A controversial figure in American history, Jackson was widely considered a forefather of modern democracy, he was also a slave owner and staunch opponent of abolition. He had a strong position against abolitionists and during his term as president, authorized the forceful removal of Native Americans from southeastern states where they had lived for centuries before the arrival of European explorers. Future generations of people who will handle the $20 notes should therefore not find an inspirational discussion lacking as they consider the beauty of a freed slave replacing a slave owner on the front of the bill, it is a history lesson just waiting to happen.
The group Women on 20s campaigned for over a year to get a woman on the front of the $20 bill, and Tubman won an online poll that they ran to that effect, making her the public’s number one choice for that in the 2015 vote held by the group.
Other bill changes are in the works too; the back of the $5 bill which depicts Abraham Lincoln on the front will show prominent leaders from US history including singer Marian Anderson, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The $10 also has changes scheduled for 2020 that will see leaders from the women’s rights movement; Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul will be pictured on the back of the $10 bill which will still retain the image of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founders of the US financial system, at the front.