The US treasury is taking steps to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, replacing slave owning president Andrew Jackson.
Harriet Tubman was a 19th-century abolitionist and political activist who escaped slavery herself, then took part in the rescues of hundreds of enslaved people, using the network of activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.
In 2016, Obama decided Tubman should replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, leading to celebrations that an escaped slave would be honoured instead of a slave owning president.
Before this could be done, along came Donald Trump, who placed a portrait of Jackson (who also directed genocidal campaigns against Native Americans) prominently in the Oval Office, and scuppered the Obama plan.
Joe Biden has now revived it. The White House press secretary told reporters that the treasury was “exploring ways to speed up” the process, adding: “It’s important that our money reflect the history and diversity of our country.”
Joe Biden has replaced the Jackson portrait in the Oval Office with one of Benjamin Franklin, who appears on the $100 bill. Such bills are known to some as “Benjamins”. Obama once said he hoped the new $20 bills would come to be known as “Tubmans”.
Biographer Andrea Dunbar Harris told the Guardian she hoped Tubman’s presence on a new $20 bill would “drive a conversation about the value of black life, period, from slavery to the present. I don’t think we can have her on the bill without us having that conversation.”
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