Alex Heldrich, Reporter
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced on April 20 that Andrew Jackson’s face would no longer grace the $20. Instead Harriet Tubman would replace him by 2020.
This is a major turning point in U.S. history as Tubman will be both the first black person and the first woman since former First Lady Martha Washington on U.S. currency.
This milestone will hopefully be a new age for the amount of representation for black women in U.S. history, as their hard work and historical significance is often erased or boiled down to something less significant. This change should also aid in the end of U.S. history’s blind praise of the genocidal maniacs that “made this great country into what it is today.”
Born in 1820, Tubman lived during the peak of slavery and racism in the South. As many may have learned in history classes, she escaped from slavery only to dedicate the rest of her life to helping other slaves escape from their owners by taking them on the Underground Railroad. While she was a slave, Tubman suffered extreme abuse which left her scarred and physically disabled.
According to biography.com, when she was a teenager, a plantation overseer threw a 2-pound weight at her head, which resulted in a lifetime of seizures, severe headaches and narcoleptic episodes. In 1849, she finally escaped with her two brothers and returned back to the plantation in 1850 to help the rest of her family escape. 1850 was also the year the Fugitive Slave Law was passed as a part of the infamous Compromise of 1850. This law made the world an even more dangerous place for escaped slaves as it urged white citizens to capture any runaway slaves and return them to their owners for a reward. The law pretty much made any black person in the U.S., free or not, fair game for being captured and “returned” with no questions asked.
According to harriettubman.org, she made about 19 trips on the Underground Railroad and saved an estimated 300 people from slavery, despite her disabilities and the danger of such acts.
During the Civil War she worked as a cook, nurse, armed scout and spy. She was the first woman to ever lead an armed expedition, in which she liberated more than 700 slaves, according to biography.com. She lived out the rest of her life tending to her family and friends until she died in 1913 at 93.
Tubman was an amazing person. Jackson on the other hand, not so much.
Jackson’s reign of terror began in 1828 when he was elected as the seventh U.S. president. His election was significant in U.S. politics. An entire political party, the Whigs, was formed solely out of hatred for Jackson. He was often compared with King Andrew I because of his bold declaration of his absolute power as president.
Jackson is most known for his heinous acts against Native Americans. According to history.com, “he claimed millions of acres of land that had been given to the Cherokee Indians under federal law.” The displaced 15,000 Native Americans were sent off to Arkansas on foot down the Trail of Tears. Thousands died during the relocation at the hands of Jackson.
Jackson is an absolute menace to U.S. history. It’s amazing that his face made it onto the $20 bill in the first place.
Putting a black woman’s face on U.S. currency is a very significant milestone. It preludes to a future of a better world for black women in America. It’s important that this country is represented by people who truly made a difference, such as Tubman.
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