Biden Restarts Plan to Get Harriet Tubman on $20 Bill

Biden administration wants to speed up change, flipping Andrew Jackson to the back
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2021 4:14 PM CST
Plan to Put Harriet Tubman on the 20 Gets New Push
The front of the $20 bill now features President Andrew Jackson.   (U.S. Treasury via AP, File)

The stalled effort to honor abolitionist Harriet Tubman by putting her likeness on the $20 bill is being started up again by the Biden administration. She would be the first Black person on US currency. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the nation's currency should "reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that," NBC reports. Born into slavery in Maryland, Tubman escaped and helped more than 300 others to freedom through the Underground Railroad. The Obama administration announced the change in 2016, but the work has never been completed. Psaki said the administration is "exploring ways to speed up that effort."

The new design moves Andrew Jackson, who kept people as slaves, to the back of the bill. President Trump is a fan who displayed Jackson's portrait in the Oval Office and visited his tomb while in office, per the Wall Street Journal. Trump discounted the effort as "pure political correctness," saying perhaps Tubman could go on the $2 bill. At one point, his administration announced that technical issues would prevent the change in the bill until 2028. "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," Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, told NPR in 2016. "And it allows us to make a hero out of someone like Harriet Tubman, who deserves to be a hero." (A new photo of Tubman, showing her in her 40s, surfaced in 2017.)

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