The initiative launched by former President Barack Obama to put Harriet Tubman, the heroic Black woman who escaped slavery and became a key leader of the abolitionist movement, on the $20 bill has gained new life thanks to approval from the Secretary of The Treasury.
As first reported by Raw Story, during her session of testimony to the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday (September 30th), Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed her support for replacing Andrew Jackson on the currency note with the abolitionist heroine. “I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to honor Harriet Tubman’s legacy and her courage in fighting for the freedom of the enslaved people and women’s right to vote than seeing her on a $20 bill,” she said.
However, Yellen did tell the committee that the move would take some time, stating that “issuing notes is a very lengthy process. It involves collaboration among a number of different agencies and it’s necessary to design counterfeit features.” The Biden Administration made getting Tubman on the bill a priority at the beginning of the year, and the historic protests for Black lives and against racism last year undoubtedly added more urgency to get this underway.
The move to get Tubman on the $20 had begun in 2016 with the release slated for 2020, but it was infamously delayed by former President Donald Trump despite a good deal of work already in place. Trump disliked the move, publicly calling it disrespectful to the “great history” of Jackson who as president was notoriously cruel, being responsible for the “Trail of Tears” which forced Native American nations from their lands in the southeastern United States westward and a slave owner. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced in May 2019 that the redesign would be delayed until 2028, and Trump as well as former Housing and Urban Development chief Ben Carson suggested she be placed on the less circulated $2 bill instead.