Have the Monday blues? Well, here’s some good news! The Biden administration announced Monday that it is working to “speed up” efforts in redesigning the $20 bill to feature Harriet Tubman.
While a timeline has not yet been announced by the Treasury Department, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the plan during a press conference in which she was asked if the new administration would pick up the initiative. “It’s important that our notes, our money … reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that," she added. "So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort."
The movement to have women on U.S. currency began years ago with grassroots organizations including Women On 20s, Daily Kos reported. Efforts to redesign the $20 bill to include Tubman and replace Andrew Jackson were announced during the Obama administration in 2016. At the time, the change was to take place in 2020 in honor of the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
Preliminary designs for the $20 bill redesign were obtained by The New York Times and revealed before Trump took office. According to the Times, design discussions included considerations of a bill with Tubman on the front and Jackson on the back.
However, despite widespread excitement to see Tubman on the bill, the action was pushed aside by the Trump administration, which claimed Tubman would never be seen on the bill. Trump himself even expressed during his 2016 campaign that a change would be "pure political correctness." A redesign was then not expected to occur until at least 2028 as Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued that a redesign did not take national priority over adding security features.
After taking office on Wednesday, President Biden removed a portrait of Jackson from the Oval Office. He noted a change was in order, CNBC reported.
Updates for other bills are also in consideration. While the administration says it is working to speed up the process of changing the $20, it is important to note that resigning a bill does take a number of years. According to CNBC, it took about 11 years to develop the blue security strip that is now a part of the $100 bill.
Tubman would not only be the first woman to be on a bill, but the first Black person to appear on U.S. currency. Tubman was an incredible individual and having her on a bill Americans use daily is not only a historical moment but an honor for Americans. Whether or not this change happens in my lifetime, I look forward to it.