Mark Meets World: Tubman $20 more than just equality measure

Washburn Review writer, Mark Feuerborn

Mark Feuerborn

In light of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s announcement that the five, 10, and $20 bill will be redesigned, an uproar ensued when it was revealed civil rights activist Harriet Tubman will replace president Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20.

The $10 and $5 will each feature a separate array of civil rights activists such as Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. while retaining Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln on their respective fronts. Lew announced the changes as part of an effort to address America’s history of racial and gender inequality.

As Lew has made clear, the changes are necessary. Just as credit cards require new security features such as the chip reader, so too does American currency in order to prevent the creation of counterfeits. The redesign of the bills will be permanent, but it’s not slated for circulation until 2020.

Updates are necessary, and they often come with many benefits. While everyone has been up in arms about a Tubman $20, they probably overlooked the mention that these updated bills will also be the first to have a tactile feature for the blind to read the currency.

It goes without saying that everyone should understand the intentions of updated security. However, I believe we should also understand it’s due time for the abolition and suffrage movement to receive the honor it deserves.

It makes sense for Lincoln and Hamilton to remain on the $5 and $10 alongside the new faces. Both were progressive and innovative men, responsible for great advances for the country. Jackson must also remain on the back of the $20.

To be blunt, there is no reason to keep Andrew Jackson, a slaveowner, on the back of a bill with Harriet Tubman, and former slave and Civil War heroine for the North. The message is mixed, at best.

It is noteworthy to recall Jackson’s signing and supervising of the Indian Removal Act, which resulted in the infamous Trail of Tears and countless deaths. Native Americans received the honor of the Sacagawea dollar, which is no longer in mint. Seems fair, right?

To be critical of Tubman’s placement on the $20 bill is to disregard her forward thinking and fight for equality for people of all races and genders. Jackson, on the other hand, is a man I associate with extortion of entire peoples. It’s maddening to see people complain about a great person getting half the honor that a bad man has held for 100 years.

Now that it’s time for the American currency to get a modern makeover, it’s time to see some faces on these bills with modern mentalities. Here’s to 2020, when I hope to look at a $20 bill and remember a figurehead of equality, instead of a man of oppression.