Treasury Department to resume process of adding Harriett Tubman to $20 bill

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Photo credit: Nps.gov

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the Biden Administration would be continuing the Obama initiative, paused under President Donald Trump, to add American Abolitionist Harriet Tubman to the $20 bill.

By Thea Leimone, Culture Editor

This week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the Treasury Department, under the Joe Biden administration, would be beginning efforts to add Harriet Tubman‘s face to the $20 bill, which currently shows former President Andrew Jackson’s portrait. This announcement comes amid the 42 executive orders President Joe Biden has signed in his first month in office.

“It’s kind of nice to see voices that represent equality and progression and just overall like happiness for minorities in common good, to like rise above such negativity,” senior Nadia Charles said. “So I do think that it’s great to symbolize that over keeping the status quo and ignoring minority voices.”

The initiative to add Tubman, an American Abolitionist known for rescuing slaves through the Underground Railroad, began during the Barack Obama Administration, but paused by Donald Trump who opposed the idea.

“I think it’s good to get Andrew Jackson off of it, but more importantly, the system that we live in doesn’t really teach about many major Black historical figures because we have a very white-washed historical system in terms of schooling,” junior Lily Kerner said. “But Harriet Tubman is someone that we can recognize and hopefully through this we can reform our education system so it’s not just the white people who did great things but it’s people of every racial background and I think that this is a step for that.

No information on the new design of the bill has been released, but the initial design from 2019 places Tubman on the front of the bill and Jackson on the back. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, was also a slaveholder who owned over 150 slaves and two plantations during his lifetime.

Honestly, I think he should be removed altogether, I feel like if it was just [Tubman] it would be a bigger leap in the best direction but because it’s [Tubman] and [Jackson] it’s kind of like a small step, a shuffle, forward,” sophomore Zoe Griffin said. “Though I think it’s really important that she’s on the bill, I think she should be on it fully.”

During the announcement of the $20 bill redesign, Psaki shared that “it’s important that our money reflect the history and diversity of our country.” This bill will be the first form of U.S. currency with a person who is not a white male.

“I think it’s so important because one she’s replacing Andrew Jackson, who was known to be very racist known to own like lots of slaves, and so it’s kind of funny to see like an ex-slave take his place like a laugh in history’s face,” Charles said. “It kind of feels good just to know that black voices matter and even though a lot of our ancestors went through like so much pain and turmoil, it’s good to finally see lots of them get their respect, and get recognized for the traumatic experience they had to go to in unfair experience to get to go through.”

Arguments have been made that the decision to place Tubman on the $20 bill is just for symbolic atonement for slavery and the U.S’s history of racial oppression, and that focus should be placed towards helping Black communities.

“I feel like people might be like, ‘Oh, we now have Tubman on the $20 bill, we don’t need to do anything else’ and I feel like that definitely has a lot of like merit in it because it’s people’s genuine fear that like the amount that white people are willing to give in order to change is really, really small,” Griffin said. ” I’m not saying don’t do this because it’s just performative, but this shouldn’t be the end all be all where we put her on the $20 bill we’re done. We should see what else we can do to help people, where should we maybe apply more money and more government funds.”