Biden Administration Revives Plan to Feature Anti-Slavery Activist on $20

The White House said last Jan. 25 that the United States Treasury will resume the plan to put 19th century abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the U.S. Treasury was “exploring ways to speed up” the process of redesigning the $20 bill to replace former President Andrew Jackson, who owned slaves, with the face of Tubman who escaped slavery then freed others.

“It’s important that our notes, our money… reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that,” Psaki said.

Originally planned under the Obama administration, efforts for the redesign was blocked by former President Donald Trump, branding it as “pure political correctness.”

In 2019, Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he was focused on redesigning the bills to address counterfeiting issues instead of imagery.

Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Founding Director Lonnie Bunch told Washington-based National Public Radio that having Tubman on the $20 bill “allows us to make a hero out of someone like Harriet Tubman, who deserves to be a hero.”

“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 also said.

Biographer Erica Armstrong Dunbar told British newspaper The Guardian in 2019 that she hoped Tubman’s image on the 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,” Dunbar added.

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