A Woman on the 20 By 2020
Times change, and our understanding of the past changes right along with it. A great many things were different, say, 100 years ago, in America. For starters, women couldn’t vote. In fact, the oppression — marginalization is way too weak a word — of women and minority groups was so abundant 100 years ago that there is hardly a comparison between their experience then and now. So, it makes sense that we see certain things a little differently today that we did in the past.
(Photo Credit: Tim Dorr/Flickr)
A movement to change the $20 bill is gaining traction. Replacing Andrew Jackson’s image with that of an influential woman from American history would send a powerful message about the values and sensibilities of today’s population. Here’s what you need to know.
Andrew Jackson was responsible for some truly terrible things.
Mainly, The Indian Removal Act, which is widely regarded as one of the most shameful aspects of American history. Prompted by white settlers’ desire to expand their territory, particularly in the South, Andrew Jackson succeeded in getting the Indian Removal Act through congress in 1830. He then spent the next 30 years or so forcefully relocating Indian tribes west of the Mississippi. The most famous example of this brutal policy became known as the Trail of Tears, in which more than 15,000 Cherokee were forced from their homes and marched to newly dubbed Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Almost 4,000 of them died along the way.
Jackson had long been a fan of Indian Removal. During his years as an Army General he spent years leading viscous campaigns against the Creeks and Seminoles — ultimately transferring a tremendous amount of land from Indian nations to white, southern, farmers. He was partially elected because of his prowess in this area, and laws and practices that followed after his presidency cemented his leadership in the campaign for Indian Removal.
Makes it a little difficult to feel good about him being venerated on our currency, doesn’t it?!
2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.
Some feel that this is the perfect occasion to make the change. These days, the fact that white men of privilege smile back at us from every single piece of American paper money, with no women, or minorities of any kind, to off-set them, feels more than a little outdated. And, it sends a message that many Americans aren’t proud of.
School children have started to enthusiastically support the cause, asking leaders to make the change in time for the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. This is a chance to represent our values and priorities differently to future generations, as well as other nations. It’s an opportunity to show that we have made tremendous progress in the last century, and that the next 100 years will demonstrate our commitment to equality.
You can vote now.
Womenon20s.org’s website is keeping track of the votes. A panel of experts selected the fifteen women on the ballot. The process is in the Primaries Stage — allowing three candidates to move on to the final round a little down the road. Voting will reopen again at that time.
The list of women is quite impressive. Candidates such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman, are compelling choices. But, a movement to add Wilma Mankiller, the first female leader of the Cherokee Nation, to the list is also gaining strength. Replacing Andrew Jackson with this powerful, female, Indian voice would really send a powerful message.
Tell Us What You Think
Who do you think should be on the $20 bill? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.
Gina Belli works as a teacher, freelance writer, and educational consultant, and lives in her beloved home state, Connecticut. She likes to write about education, work-life balance, and the economy. Given her arresting capacity to over-analyze anything interpersonal, her writing often tends to focus on some of the more emotional aspects of workplace connections and disconnections, as they relate to partnerships and teams, personality and communication styles, and leadership. In her free time, she likes to putter around her renovated one-room schoolhouse home, take walks in the woods, and eat as much guacamole as she can get her hands on.