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Sonali Karande Brahma
22 Apr 2016 . 4 min read

Meet Harriet Tubman - The New Face Of The $20 Bill


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US Treasury honours its Shero – Harriet Tubman by having her on the face of their $20 bill.

The news came in like a breath of fresh air, and yet is one, that was perhaps long awaited. Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson from the front of the US$20 bill. A woman receiving top honours and prime placement on US Currency is a great piece of news, more so, when it is long due and well deserved.

Harriet Tubman was an American bondwoman who escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. She was born in Maryland in 1820, and successfully escaped in 1849. But she did not let that happiness go to her head. She returned many times to rescue both family members and non-relatives from the plantation system. She led hundreds to freedom in the North as the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, an elaborate secret network of safe houses organized for that purpose. She put herself to risk many times, despite knowing she could have well avoided that and stayed put in her safe zone.

As Jack Lew, Treasury Secretary announced this news, he said, “Today, I’m excited to announce that for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman, Harriet Tubman, on the $20 note. Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embody the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates, and we’ll continue to value her legacy by honouring her on our currency.”

The new bills will be unveiled by 2020 to mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

The announcement was followed by a tweetathon, where everyone who was someone, tweeted in favour of the decision.

 “A woman, a leader, and a freedom fighter,” Hillary Clinton tweeted. “I can’t think of a better choice for the $20 bill than Harriet Tubman.”

Bernie Sanders concurred, tweeting that he “cannot think of an American hero more deserving of this honour than Harriet Tubman.”

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who introduced the “Put a Woman on the Twenty Act in Congress” last year in the House, also commended the decision Wednesday.

“There has been a lot of talk about putting a woman’s portrait on our money, but finally it sounds like Secretary Lew is putting our money where his mouth is,” Gutiérrez said in a prepared statement. “It is crazy that women have been mostly absent from our money up until now, with only a few exceptions.”

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen also commended the move. "Throughout American history, women have made important contributions to the free and democratic society we enjoy today," Yellen said in a statement. "I welcome the decision by the Treasury Department to honour these achievements. The Federal Reserve will work with Treasury on a design that also incorporates strong security features to protect worldwide users of U.S. currency."

White House deputy press secretary Jennifer Friedman said President Barack Obama was both pleased with Americans' enthusiasm around the whole process and the end result. "The President welcomes Secretary Lew's important announcement that our next currency will honour the contributions that women and civil rights leaders have made to our country, celebrate our democracy and reflect the rich history of the United States and the struggles for freedom and equal rights," Friedman said.

A salute to Shero Tubman – may you keep inspiring many more of our generation and those that will follow us!

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Sonali Karande Brahma
Sonali Karande Brahma is a Brand and Content Strategist, Creative Consultant and Writer with 20 years of experience in creating powerful stories for advertising, brand building and communication. She has worked in mainstream advertising for major MNC and Indian brands. She thrives on ideas and writes on diverse subjects like education, parenthood, business, the art of business writing and social media. She can be reached on [email protected]

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