The male dominance in this country is not something that many women have let go unnoticed over time. They’ve made their voices heard in the suffrage movement and in many events in the years to follow. There are still very few women CEOs and we’ve yet to elect a women American president. But as of Wednesday, the United States Treasury announced how it is planning to do its part.
Come 2020, the green bills in your pocket will look a little different. No longer will Andrew Jackson reign on the front of the $20 bill but instead, Harriet Tubman. Women suffrage leaders will also begin to be seen on the back of the $10 bill.
Tubman will be the first woman on U.S. paper currency since 1896. Martha Washington and Pocahontas both appeared on a form of currency for a very short period of time, but that was over a century ago.
So why this ‘silence,’ this absence for so many years? Was the 20th century full of too much conflict and controversy? We can all admit our country has undergone some substantial changes since 1896.
This currency change is not just about women, though. Harriet Tubman was an African American women and leader. After about a century of silence, to put an African American women on a national currency, I’d say that’s quite a statement. And a necessary one. Slavery is such a part of our history—not a part that we’re particularly proud of but our history nonetheless.
Jackson received the boot off the $20 bill over Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill because when he was president, Jackson forced Native Americans to move off their land. Martin Luther King will also be found on the back of the $5 bill giving his “I have a Dream” speech.
I’m sure people will find a way to argue about who was chosen for the bills but I think it’s important to remember the statement that is being made and the positive conversations that can be derived from that. Let’s remember our history and our past because it’s what makes this country who we are. And let’s learn from our mistakes as we plan for the future.
As our country strives to be more politically correct—or at least they say they are trying—freshening up the face of our currency that can be found around the world is quite the substantial political statement.
Read more about what’s to come from the U.S. Treasury in 2020 here.