By Jacob Bogage
The Washington Post Jan. 28, 2021
The $20 bill is getting a new — but familiar — face.
The Biden administration will resume the process to add famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman to the note, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during her Monday news briefing. A Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed the change. Tubman will become the first Black person on the face of American paper currency and the first woman in generations; Martha Washington appeared on a $1 bill in the 1890s, and Pocahontas was in a group picture on the $20 bill in the 1860s, according to Reuters. It’s not clear whether Tubman would replace or join President Andrew Jackson on the bill. The White House declined to comment further on the plans. “The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” Psaki said. “It’s important that our notes … reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that. So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”
Derrick Johnson, chief executive and president of the NAACP, said in a statement: “Harriet Tubman lived at a time when Congress, the Supreme Court and our nation was abhorrently paralyzed over whether it was legal to allow one person to own another. In a true act of liberty and independence, Tubman freed herself from slavery, only to return south 19 more times, risking her own life and freedom, to save her family and hundreds of others from a life spent in slavery.
“The legacy of Harriet Tubman and other Black Americans who built the nation we know today must be recognized and celebrated in our schools, culture and currency. The NAACP applauds the Biden administration’s announcement to change the design of the $20 bill to commemorate the full story of the significant figures in our history.”
The Obama administration announced plans to put Tubman on the bill in 2016, after she was chosen from among several women in an informal nationwide poll. President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin scuttled those plans in 2019.