Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill


A picture of Harriet Tubman in Florida A&M Black Archives. Tubman is to be considered the new face on the $20 bill

Harriet Tubman has been chosen to be the new face on America’s $20 bill.

The Women on 20s campaign has announced that Tubman was the winner of its contest to nominate a woman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Tubman, an escaped slave, famously led other captives to freedom.

Tubman won the honor over other great American women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Wilma Mankiller, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

More than 600,000 votes were cast over 10 weeks, which included more than 350,000 in the final round.

Will Guzmán, assistant professor of history and African American studies at Florida A&M University, shared his thoughts on the possibility of Tubman decorating the new $20 bill.

“On the one hand this act, if passed, would be significant because Harriet Tubman was a freedom fighter who played an instrumental role in liberating many African captives from the hells of the deep south into freedom in the north, including as far as Canada. She was unwavering in her commitment in the forward progression of African peoples,” Guzmán said. 

On the other hand, one cannot help but reflect on the twisted irony that a famous critic of slavery would now be memorialized on one of a $20 U.S. bill, the same amount her father Ben purchased her mother Rit for in 1855, Guzman said.

A petition has been sent to President Barack Obama asking him to order the Secretary of the Treasury to change the portrait of Jackson, who is currently on the $20 bill.

On the official website, The Women on 20s group explains what they would like to see happen next.

“President Obama already has publicly expressed an interest in featuring more women on our money. With at least 100,000 votes, we can get the president's ear.”

Jake Myers, a criminal justice major at the University of South Florida, thinks it is unnecessary to change the currency.

“Although I admire what women have done in history, Harriet Tubman hasn’t held any executive position to be recognized for such an honor,” said Myers.

Willie Smiley, a graduate history student at FAMU, thinks the idea of Tubman on the new $20 bill is great.

“Not only did she help blacks, but she helped shape American history,” Smiley said.

If this change does occur it could take years for the treasury to roll out the new Tubman bills.