The Biden administration announced it will resume efforts to redesign the $20 bill to feature abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday it’s important that “our money … reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that. So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”
Former President Barack Obama initiated the effort during his second term in 2016, but the initiative froze during former President Donald Trump’s one term as he called the move “pure political correctness,” and suggested putting Tubman on the $2 bill. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin added the change would not be made until after 2028.
Tubman, who was born into slavery sometime in the 1800s, eventually escaped to Pennsylvania in 1849 and went on to make 13 missions on the Underground Railroad to free more than 70 slaves. In order to do this, Tubman relied on a bevy of trusted people, both Black and white; disguises; and secret codes used in letters to others.
Tubman even carried a gun with her on missions to protect herself from slave catchers and to intimidate runaways who changed their minds about being freed, risking the safety of others.
In 2016, Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture told NPR what it would mean to see Tubman’s photo on a piece of U.S. currency.
“For me, having Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill really says, first of all, that America realizes that it’s not the same country that it once was — that it’s a place where diversity matters,” Bunch told All Things Considered. “And it allows us to make a hero out of someone like Harriet Tubman, who deserves to be a hero.”
If the change is made, Andrew Jackson’s photo would be moved to the back of the bill.