Earlier this week, the Biden administration made the announcement that it would resume the efforts first put forth by the Obama administration to put the image of Harriet Tubman on the$20 bill. The Treasury Department is intent upon speeding up the process to recognize the 19th century freedom fighter in an effort to reflect the history and diversity of the United States.
The idea was initially hailed as a noble move to replace Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, with Harriet Tubman, an ex-slave, as a way to reproach a bleak time in United States history.
However, many Black activists have expressed that the move does not go along with the legacy that Tubman left behind, saying that she was not a proponent of capitalism, rather, she fought to free people who were traded and valued like currency themselves. The notion of recognizing someone like Tubman by putting her image on the $20 bill is counterintuitive of a woman who fought for freedom from this kind of capitalist oppression.
Rather than putting a Black woman or person of color on a bill, many Black women express merely wanting to be valued equally in American society. The notion, here, being that representation without policy change or improvement within the daily life of Black women is essentially meaningless.
Nonetheless, the efforts are still going forward to redesign and finalize the $20 bill by the Treasury Department. Despite input from many Black women activists, others point to the fact that Donald Trump’s administration stalled the move. Trump, in fact, hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, calling him a “political hero.” Many activists point to the move of putting Tubman on the $20 bill as a departure from the past and a separation from the views of Trump and white supremacy.