Harriet Tubman to Replace Slave-Holder Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

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Photo: Women on 20s

Last year, I wrote about Women On 20s, an organization whose mission is to put a woman’s face on paper currency by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote. After a public vote that selected Harriet Tubman as the ideal nominee and a year of petitioning the Treasury Department to make history by better representing history, it looks like it's all really happening!

This afternoon, the Treasury is set to announce that slave-freer Harriet Tubman will replace slave-holder Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. And that's not all: civil right leaders will grace the $5 bill and multiple suffragettes will appear on the back of the $10 bill (Alexander Hamilton was spared because of his newfound popularity, thanks to Broadway and Lin-Manuel Miranda).

On top of all the obvious reasons why this news is wonderful, an anecdote from Tubman's life makes the symbolism even more poignant. When her father was on trial for helping slaves escape, Tubman was desperate to raise $20 to free him. She marched into the office of abolitionist Oliver Johnson, declared "I'm not gwine till I git my twenty dollars," and sat and slept there until she got what she came for (before you congratulate the rich white dude, don't; the funds came from ex-slaves who raised money on Harriet's behalf). Not in her wildest dreams did she probably imagine that her face would one day end up gracing the very bill she had to beg and plead for. Go on and bend, arc of the moral universe, bend!

Update (5:15pm): Ugh, we should have sensed that some white nonsense was just around the corner: