In 2016, the United States Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. The redesign and circulation of this new $20 bill was set to take place in 2020. However, there's been little word about the redesign since. I, myself, only recently remembered that this announcement was made at all, and with 2020 now approaching, I've wondered whether or not the redesign would actually happen. In a statement made this past Wednesday, current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin revealed that the Harriet Tubman $20 bill will be delayed past Donald Trump's presidency and that the bill may not be in circulation until 2028.
The placement of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill had been anticipated and welcome news at the time of the announcement, and the unveiling of the new bill was meant to fall on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The delay is definitely disappointing, although not completely surprising.
The Harriet Tubman $20 bill would have been the only current bill to feature a woman and a person of color. While the image on paper currency may not seem like a major concern, it still matters. The people we put on our currency are the people we choose to remember and honor as a country, especially considering how the $20 is so commonly used in Americans' daily lives. Andrew Jackson is a controversial figure, known for his part in the Trail of Tears, a removal and relocation of Native Americans that resulted in thousands of deaths. A woman of color who suffered under racism in the United States would have been a fitting and timely replacement for 2020.
The delaying of the redesign is especially disappointing to both women and people of color. Placing a woman of color on our currency can represent both groups in a way that can have a large impact. Imagine what it would be like for young girls to see a woman memorialized in such a way in American history or for children of color to see the image of someone who fought against racism and discrimination in everyone's wallets. Imagine what it would be like for these things to become normal, for women and people of color to be given such visible importance in the history of the United States.
Our currency can become much more than just pieces of paper, and it can represent the United States as the diverse nation it is now. Such symbols matter and they have a role in how we see our country and even how we see ourselves as Americans. With the current state of the country and the continuing presence of racism against people of color, the Harriet Tubman bill has the potential to become a powerful symbol of the role of minority groups in the United States. It's something we need now, but unfortunately, it seems we will have to wait another eight or nine years before we can see the bill in circulation.