OPINION: Biden Administration Plans to Add Harriet Tubman to $20 Bill 


The Washington Post

Ariana Bruno

Within his first week in office, President Joe Biden’s leadership marks a new era. Biden’s focus on racial justice represents the most sustained focus on race matters that America has ever seen in decades. Because of this, The Biden Administration announced its plan to return back to an Obama-era initiative to put Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill. This was after Trump’s Administration pushed this idea away. 

Harriet’s face would replace Andrew Jackson, the egregious racist president. Jackson was known for owning hundreds of slaves, and his racial killing of Indian removal. However with this current design, Harriet Tubman will grace the front of the bill, while a statue of Jackson will remain on the back. Many Americans across the racial spectrum are excited for this to be implemented, while also viewing it as progress. For some, placing Tubman on American money is an extension of enslaved people and a slap in the face to her legacy. “I don’t want to see Tubman commodified with a price, as she once was as a slave,” wrote writer Steven W. Thrasher last summer. Other’s wrote that putting Tubman on the $20 is a form of disrespect, and something that would potentially ruin her legacy. 

I believe that representation matters. It especially matters for Black people and people of color. They should be placed in positions of leadership and decision making. While putting Tubman on the $20 is great, not all forms of representation are equal. Harriet Tubman’s life was all about fighting against a racist system that put Black lives and their bodies as currency, and property. 

Many of the freedoms we have today are a direct result from Tubman’s heroic efforts.  However, the country’s relationship with money is the support beam of so many national issues we deal with. Too often America attempts to lay down racism through symbolism as well as style instead of any substance. We should note, that Black people’s faces have, in fact, been on our currency before. During the Confederacy, when money was being printed, images of enslaved people picking cotton and doing other forms of  labor had appeared on the money in several states.

While I think this is a great step to place Harriet on the $20 this isn’t enough. Removing racist stereotypes/people off food brands (Aunt Jemima, Land O Lakes Butter Native American Woman, Uncle Ben, etc.) and national currency just is not enough. It’s the bare minimum. Black men and women want their voices heard. Many people want to see change and get justice for POC and POC who were victims of hate crimes whether they’re alive or not.


However,  banknotes can help us better understand our national history and reflect the nation we are today. American banknotes are not statues or monuments. They are dynamic objects that have undergone change many times before. Though, thinking more broadly about how to help Black people and people of color now would help to strengthen our ties to get everyone justice instead of moving at a slower pace. I believe we need to reflect on our society as a whole. 

***This opinion article reflects the voice of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Viking Times as a whole.  Like most news outlets, The Viking Times is a non-partisan media platform.***