Black abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman will appear on the front of the $20 bill, relocating the slaveholding former president Andrew Jackson to its rear. The changes are part of an overhaul of U.S. currency aimed at addressing America’s legacy of slavery and gender inequality.
Tubman’s story is “the essential story of American democracy” and the power of an individual to make a difference, adding that “so much of what we believe has changed for better for this country is reflected in what she struggled for.”
“It is just absolutely beautiful to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman, because where Jackson represented the worst side of American history, Tubman represents the best ideals of American democracy,” said Kari Winter, a professor who studies slavery and dissent. “She really represents the highest ideals of community, working for the common good, thinking about others beside yourself, risking everything for justice.”
Tubman, who was born a slave, will be the first African American and first black woman whose picture appears on U.S. currency. She helped bring dozens of slaves to freedom in her lifetime through the network of abolitionists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.
Later in life, she served as a Union Army spy during the Civil War, where she aided the North by scouting terrain and recruiting slaves as soldiers. Before her death in her late 80s or early 90s, she was an outspoken activist for women’s right to vote.
“United States history is not Andrew Jackson versus Harriet Tubman. It is Andrew Jackson and Harriet Tubman, both heroes of a nation’s work in progress toward great goals,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, which Jackson also represented in Congress. “It is unnecessary to diminish Jackson in order to honor Tubman. Jackson was the first common man to be elected president.”
Others objected to the decision to feature Tubman because it was inconsistent with her history.
Source: Harriet Tubman to appear on $20 bill, while Alexander Hamilton remains on $10 bill
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