Civil Rights Female Activist Harriet Tubman to be Featured on U.S. $20 Bill

Harriet Tubman will become the first African-American on the face of U.S. paper currency, and the first woman in more than a century, when she replaces former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist who helped rescue slaves, in the late 1800s. Photo: Library of Congress

Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist who helped rescue slaves, in the late 1800s. Photo: Library of Congress

U.S. Department of the Treasure has recently announced a new design concept for the $20 dollar note. The front of the new $20 will feature the portrait of Harriet Tubman, whose life was dedicated to fighting for liberty. The reverse of the new $20 will depict the White House and an image of President Andrew Jackson.

“… today I am excited to announce that for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman — Harriet Tubman on the $20 note,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery. After she escaped, she became a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to freedom. During the Civil War, she was active in the Union cause, serving as a nurse, a cook, and a scout, gathering intelligence. Looking back on her life, Harriet Tubman said, “I would fight for liberty so long as my strength lasted.” After the war, she supported the cause of women’s suffrage and was active in suffragist organizations. She died in 1913 and was buried with military honors.

“When I announced last June that a newly redesigned $10 note would feature a woman, I hoped to encourage a national conversation about women in our democracy. The response has been powerful. You and your fellow citizens from across the country have made your voices heard through town hall discussions and roundtable conversations, and with more than a million responses via mail and email, and through handwritten notes, tweets, and social media posts,” explained Lew.

“The decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old. I have been particularly struck by the many comments and reactions from children for whom Harriet Tubman is not just a historical figure, but a role model for leadership and participation in our democracy. You shared your thoughts about her life and her works and how they changed our nation and represented our most cherished values,” he added.

A slew of changes to the $5 and $10 notes have recently been introduced as well. As Lew said, the redesign gives the Treasury “a chance to open the aperture to reflect more of America’s history.”

A new $10 bill will add images of five female leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, including Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to the back, while keeping founding father Alexander Hamilton on the front.

The reverse of a new $5 note will show former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., officials said. Former President Abraham Lincoln will remain on the front.

The final redesigns will be unveiled in 2020, 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.

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