Since April 2016, the United States Department of the Treasury has said that freedom fighter and abolitionist Harriet Tubman would replace former president Andrew Grant on the front of the $20 bill, as Colorlines previously reported. But yesterday (May 22), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed that the redesign will not happen while President Donald Trump is in office.
In a C-Span video of Mnuchin testifying on the international financial system before the House Committee on Financial Services, Representative Ayanna Pressely (D-Mass.) explained the efforts of grassroots organizations to update the country’s currency so it reflects the nation’s diverse population and pioneers. Pressley noted that when former Secretary Jacob Lew announced in 2016 that Tubman would be the face of the new bill, he also confirmed that final design concepts would be unveiled in 2020 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Clearly frustrated by the lack of updates on the project, Pressley asked Mnuchin, “Do you believe that representation matters in American politics and imagery? Do you believe that people, other than White men, have greatly contributed to this country and its history?”
Though Mnuchin said he agreed that others have made contributions to this country, he also said, “The $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand,” adding that the redesign will be made by a different secretary altogether. “I have not made a decision to execute on a redesign.”
Pressley wasn’t alone in her frustration, as she and various people took to Twitter to share their dismay:
People other than white men built this county. And Sec Mnuchin agrees, yet he refuses to update our #currency. #HarrietTubman #MarianAnderson & #EleanorRoosevelt are iconic Americans & its past time that our ? reflects that. #RepresentationMatters | https://t.co/nJmhiktHPm pic.twitter.com/hKQSR3Gl8P— Rep Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) May 22, 2019
Commemorating the courage of Harriet Tubman, a former slave who risked her life on the Underground Railroad to help others to freedom, shows the important role women, especially women of color, played throughout American history. This is unwelcome news. https://t.co/DgX4L1Cz9h— Antonio Delgado (@DelgadoforNY19) May 23, 2019
Steve Mnuchin blocking Harriet Tubman from being placed on the $20 bill is a move that panders only to racists and White Supremacists. Period.— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) May 23, 2019
They’re out here trying to erase Harriet Tubman but fighting for Robert E Lee statues. We see you.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) May 22, 2019
While the current White House occupant previously called the Tubman $20 “pure political correctness” and suggested that Tubman’s image be printed on the rarely-used or seen $2 bill, chances are that Pressley will not fold easily. Watch a C-Span clip of her questioning Mnuchin at the hearing below:
CSPAN (@cspan) May 22, 2019