Posted in News
Harriet Tubman is the first African American to grace a dollar bill.
And guess what? She’s a woman too.
African Americans have come a long way. From tilling cotton fields to occupying the oval office; the announcement made by the Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on Wednesday is undoubtedly one of the most historically significant and symbolic transformation of the American currency in the last century. He is proposing to replace the slave owner Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, a former slave and abolitionist; to add women and civil rights leaders to the $5 and $10 notes.
Lew was quoted as saying that Harriet Tubman was not just a historical figure but a role model for leadership and participation in our democracy.
“Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embodies the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates’’.
Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Ross; c. 1822 – March 10, 1913’’ was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and a Union spy during the American Civil War. She was born into slavery but she escaped and rescued roughly seventy enslaved families and friends on several occasions. She helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era was an active participant in the struggle for women’s suffrage.
During the Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war; she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than seven hundred slaves. After she died in 1913, she became an icon of American courage and freedom.
Now Harriet’s picture will grace the front cover of the America 20 dollar bill, overtaking that of Andrew Jackson; a renowned slave owner and former president of America. Jackson’s picture will be a reduced image along with the White House at the back of the dollar bill. Tubman would be the first woman honored on paper currency since Martha Washington’s portrait momentarily graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century.
In the same vein, several other activists and humanitarian heroes such as , Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be featured on the back of the new $10 bill while Eleanor Roosevelt, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Marian Anderson will be portrayed on the back of the new $5 bill.
The final redesign is speculated to be unveiled in 2020 which will be the centennial of the 19th Amendment establishing women’s suffrage, and will not go into wide circulation until later in the decade, starting with the new $10 note.
This development is a welcome one with several people taking to the social media to express their happiness at the choices of the US Treasury. It depicts a historical moment for a multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial nation moving contentiously through the early years of a new century.