The New $20 Bill You Have To See To Believe
Have you seen that new $20 bill featuring Rosa Parks floating around? We haven’t, either. But we’re getting closer to it, thanks to Women on 20s, a new organization that aims to get a historically significant woman’s face on the $20 bill. “Equality may be legislated, but our culture must embrace it in every way for it to become a reality and erase the lines that have been drawn between us,” explains executive director Susan Ades Stone.
Stone, along with founder Barbara Ortiz Howard, began planning the campaign, which is modeled after the Presidential election process, in January 2014. Coinciding with the start of National Women’s History Month (March), public voting on their first round of 15 candidates began on Monday. Once they have a winner, they’ll petition President Obama to put her, well, on the money. It’s Howard’s dream, Stone said, “to honor the women who helped shape this country, by making them visible in our everyday lives, just like the great men on our paper money.”
The final goal, after the voting, is to get the winner onto the $20 bill by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the amendment giving women the right to vote. If the campaign succeeds, the new face would replace Andrew Jackson, whom you might best remember from U.S. history class as the seventh President and creator of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, a forced migration of Native Americans that killed thousands of them in the process. Surely Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or Rachel Carson, three of the proposed replacement candidates, are better options.
With awareness being given equal weight to the campaign’s main goal, “we have left the [election] time periods open-ended to allow as many people as possible to participate in the process,” Stone explained. “This campaign is as much about education as it is about its goal of getting a woman’s portrait on paper money.” That said, it shouldn’t take long to reach the first campaign goal, 100,000 total votes (the number needed to petition the White House for executive action), with several thousand ballots already having been cast in the first couple days of voting.
Speaking of education, if you’re not exactly a history buff, Women on 20s offers short bios of each of their candidates, who were selected from an initial list of 100 names based on criteria like impact on society (given double weight, Stone said) and “the level of difficulty they faced in pursuing their goals, including whether they were pioneers in their field.” We’d say Clara Barton and Barbara Jordan profoundly exceeded Andrew Jackson as pioneers in their fields, nursing and politics, respectively. Not that we’re trying to sway your vote, of course! Anyway, you can cast a ballot for three people in the first round, so be sure to brush up.
You may be asking, ‘But aren’t there some women on our currency?’ Well, yes, but so far the only females to appear on U.S. money, Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea, have been on the dollar coin — not really America’s most popular form of legal tender. Per Stone, “Women On 20s is one small way to join Americans in a big cultural hug and acknowledge that symbols matter — especially the pictures we put on our money.” Andrew Jackson has had a good run representing the $20, but it’s time for an update. An inspirational quote from Gloria Steinem, which is featured on Womenon20s.org, says it best: “Women have always been an equal part of the past. They just haven’t been a part of history.” We’re off to cast our first three votes now!