Which Of These Four Women Could We Soon See On A $20 Bill?
The nonprofit campaign Women on 20s is on a mission to put a female face on the US $20 bill by 2020, and is winding down to a final vote of which female legacy most deserves to be immortalized on currency. The campaign began when executive director Susan Ades Stone called in assistance from a group of accomplished historians and writers to compile a list of 15 women who helped shape American history, and tasked supporters vote for who they’d most like to see on cash. The specific date and bill were chosen because 2020 is the centennial anniversary of women’s right to vote, and because Andrew Jackson, who currently resides on the $20 bill, is terrible and worth replacing. Jackson is recognized for major moves like founding the Democratic party, but he was also that huge asshole who was responsible for the Trail of Tears (a.k.a. the “Indian Removal Act of 1830″) and thus the displacement and murder of thousands of Native Americans. He also seemed to really hate the idea of paper money, much less the idea of himself being printed on paper money, so there’s also that, if genocide isn’t enough to do it for you.
An early round of votes narrowed the list to a Final Four: Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Wilma Mankiller. You can cast a vote for your favorite, and when this round of decisions is finished, Women on 20s will send a petition to the White House asking that the chosen woman be placed on bills. Making the change would be a surprisingly easy legal process — no Congressional action is required, the President simply needs to ask the Treasury Secretary to make the switch. We already know President Obama would be at least somewhat down with this plan, because he mentioned in a recent speech how inspired he was by a nine-year-old girl’s letter requesting exactly that:
“A young girl wrote to ask me why aren’t there any women on our currency, and then she gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff — which I thought was a pretty good idea.
I’m going to choose to interpret that as being onboard. The nonprofit is aiming for 100,000 votes before sending the petition, and they’ve already received 60,000 since the final voting round launched two days ago. Watch this lovely video of the Final Four and go cast your vote!
A quick history refresher to inform your choice:
- Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady from 1933-1945, and created today’s model of using the position to further activist causes. She was a badass feminist who fought for equality and human rights around the world.
- Harriet Tubman was a former slave and abolitionist who, after escaping slavery herself, returned to the dangerous South roughly 19 times to help others escape through the Underground Railroad. She assisted Union soldiers in the Civil War as a spy and guide, and was buried with military honors.
- Rosa Parks lit a fire under the Civil Rights movement by refusing to move to the back of a Montgomery bus for a white passenger, and inspired the bus boycott that would change the way America looked at racial equality. She was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP went on to become heavily involved in further social movements, working in congressional offices and advocating for Planned Parenthood.
- Wilma Mankiller was the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, and advocated for a better health, access and education for her community. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 for her work.