Women on 20s advocacy group possibly gave America a new face for the 20 dollar bill. Harriet Tubman was singled out as the choice of American society in an online poll with over 600,000 participants.
The advocacy group is fighting for gender equality in the United States. Considering the highly valued symbolic nature that currency holds for a country, the members of Women on 20s see the replacement of the former president Jackson with Harriet Tubman as an invaluable pledge to gender equality.
If their campaign is successful, it could be that by 2020 the 20 dollar bill will be embellished by the portrait of the abolitionist fighter. A great reminder and a perfect role model some would say. The initiative is praised as a step forward for both women and the African American community. Nonetheless, it found its critics too.
Harriet Tubman, born around 1822 was an abolitionist and a prominent humanitarian. Born into slavery, she escaped to Philadelphia and following her period as a spy for the Union forces, she became a conductor on the Underground Railroad. While fighting for full abolition of slavery, she also pushed great lengths for human and women rights.
In the campaign started by Women on 20s she was ranked well above civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Wilma Mankiller and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt were also on the contender list.
Yet, the poll results showed Harriet Tubman to have won the participants’ hearts.
President Obama applauded the initiative and stated that it would indeed be an important step forward for gender equality. Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire added her voice to the supporters’ crowd. Ellen DeGenres praised it as a great idea.
And the initiative could not have come at a better time. The representation of President Jackson on the 20 dollar bill, while held in high regards by some, has been criticized by others. Its term came under scrutiny recently for the Indian Removal Act in 1830 that led to a crushing policy toward several Native American tribes.
Yet, criticism of Women on 20s campaign quickly gained ground as well. The culture site The Root expressed stark criticism as to the value of this gesture. Rather than seeing it as advancement in gender equality and a step forward for the African Americans, they labeled it as a farce, a slap in the face for the community it is trying to help. Superficial would be the best term to accommodate the initiative of the advocacy group. In a reality that needs real political involvement, a symbolic move like this would represent nothing more than dust in the wind.
Even against such criticism, Women on 20s are moving to present their petition to replace President Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to the White House. All that is needed for this initiative to become reality is an order from the US Secretary of the Treasury.
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