TREASURY FAILED TO DO THEIR JOB AND GEORGE FLOYD PAID THE PRICE
Women On 20s and associates are calling on the U.S. Treasury to take a knee and make our $20s counterfeit proof and upgrade it with a portrait of Harriet Tubman. The Treasury’s failure to update the $20 cannot be separated from the tragic events which led to the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020.
After burying his brother on Tuesday, Philonise Floyd went to Washington to testify in front of House members this week. He grimly noted his brother “didn't deserve to die over $20." Certainly not, but the grievous truth about American history is how little people of color and women have been valued by those in power. And it is an ironic truth that the person on the $20, the bill that started this tragedy on May 25th, is someone who clearly did not value black or Native American lives at all.
For decades, people have asked for the removal of Andrew Jackson from our $20s, an exceedingly cruel slave trader, slaveowner, and the architect of the “Trail of Tears” genocide of Native Americans. Jackson’s brutal track record would seem to be at complete odds with the values Americans say they have, yet his name and personage infiltrate our lives daily making it impossible to extract ourselves from Jackson’s brutality. Jackson’s portrait on our currency glorifies a rogue, a thug, and a murderer. If that is who we were, and he was a product of his time, Treasury must renounce that identity and help transform who we are going forward.
OUR REACTION TO THE MNUCHIN DELAY
At Women On 20s we’re not surprised that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is kicking the design reveal of the $20 bill to sometime beyond the potential interference of a Trump presidency. The Tubman $20 design was supposed to be unveiled by 2020, but even under the most optimistic timetable set out by the Obama administration, the bill itself never was expected to be in our hands before 2026.
Now it is up to Congress to act on the Harriet Tubman Tribute Bill (HR1083) that is presently before the House Financial Services Committee, to compel the Treasury Department to accelerate the timetable and at the very least show us a Tubman bill design in time for the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020. As we’ve been saying for years, symbols do matter.
Moreover, we note that the $20 is the most counterfeited bill in terms of total value at risk and should be advanced in all cases as a matter of security. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, there are 9.4 billion $20 bills currently in circulation both domestically and abroad. That's almost five times the number of $10s and $50s in use. Of all the bills, only the $100 is circulating in greater numbers. Yes, there are technological challenges in creating the security features that make our money secure and they take time to invent. But it’s only a matter of political will that stands in the way of overhauling several bills at once – the $10, the $5 and the $20 as initiated by the Obama administration -- instead of in slow succession.
President Trump famously said from the campaign trail that replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill amounted to nothing more than political correctness. We expected nothing more of him. As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, the pantheon of American heroes that reflects who we are as a nation should not be stuck in past centuries when only white men were deemed worthy of such respect.
AWAITING TREASURY TIMELINE
Women on 20s supports the efforts of Senator Jeanne Shaheen to clarify the Department of Treasury’s timeline for issuing newly designed paper currency that will feature female American heroes, including the much-anticipated Harriet Tubman $20, which was slated for rollout by the mid-2020s.
As we have closely followed recent statements from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicating he has yet to focus his attention on the design, we also have kept our eyes and ears on what the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is saying about the process. We are encouraged that all indications are that the directives from previous treasury secretary, Jack Lew, are still being followed. But we, like Senator Shaheen, are concerned that the agency may not hit the target of revealing the actual bill designs in time to honor the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020, and rollout of the bills into circulation a couple of years later, beginning with the $10, which would feature five suffragists on the reverse side of the Alexander Hamilton bill.
The previous administration had identified ways to both enhance the security of the new bills and accelerate production to enable more than one bill to be designed at a time and ensure that all of them would be in circulation well before 2030.
Millions of Americans from all walks of life and political persuasions participated in and supported the grass roots campaign Women On 20s initiated to have women represented on paper currency. Their voices were heard and now they deserve to know whether and when their wishes will be realized.
Bring Harriet Home
Here at Women On 20s we were thrilled to learn recently that a rare and valuable photographic portrait has been discovered picturing a young Harriet Tubman in her earliest years of freedom from slavery. And now, we are dedicated to helping bring this important image back to the place where it was taken in Auburn, New York, site of the Tubman Home, which President Obama designated a National Park in the closing days of his administration. We are proud to have been part of the historic campaign to bring Tubman, a great American hero, the recognition she deserves with her portrait appearing soon on a new $20 bill. And now we’re asking you, the people who made it happen, to give what you can to get Harriet Tubman off the auction block and home where she belongs.
Sparsely funded but with great hope and determination, the Tubman Home has launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise enough money to place the winning bid when the Young Harriet photograph is auctioned at the renowned Swann Galleries on March 30th. The valuable and rare image, taken at a time when Tubman was being hunted as a fugitive slave and desperate to keep her identity hidden, is expected to fetch between $20-$30,000 at auction. But our hope at Women On 20s is that the funds raised can be used to pre-empt the sale by auction by offering a fair price to Swann Galleries as the representative of the private owner. Any funds raised beyond a generous purchase price could be used to help the Tubman Home, with its severely limited staff and funding, curate its collection and bring its rich history to the public.
So we urge you to join us in keeping this piece of American history in the public domain by clicking on #BringHarrietHome and sharing this link with your family and friends. Together let’s make historic change, again.
THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!
Look what we spotted at the U.S. Treasury Building during the Women's March in DC! This is change America believes in, President Trump.
Please share with pride.
#WhyWeMarch: We are marching to preserve freedom.
Women On 20s has, from its inception, been about equality, inclusion, recognition and respect for all women of all persuasions. So the Women’s March and all it represents, is a perfect opportunity for us to hoist the Tubman Twenty as a symbol of the freedom and equality we aspire to, and demand, as a people. Our small but powerful W20 movement, and the large grassroots Women’s March movement, should serve as a reminder to the new administration that the people who were targeted during the campaign – women, people of color, Muslims, LGBTQIA and people with disabilities – cannot and should not be disrespected, diminished or shunted aside. We hope our participation and solidarity with the marchers will help inspire the kind of historic change that is still needed to ensure that America continues to be a beacon of freedom for the free world and beyond.
TUBMAN ON THE WALL AND IN OUR WALLET
Mural by Artist, Naturel
More than ever, to help heal divisions in our country, we want to see the Tubman $20s, which even before they are issued speak powerfully to the values of inclusion and equality upon which this nation was founded. If current Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew can get the presses cranking sooner, as referenced in the following Time article, this important, long-needed modification to our all-male currency will be all the more secure from politically motivated changes that could be initiated by the new administration.
President-elect Trump said at the time of the announcement last April that replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 was "pure political correctness" and suggested putting Harriet Tubman on the $2 bill instead. Until his statement, there was widespread bipartisan embrace of this initiative, a rare display of unity both inside the Beltway and beyond. Any rollback of the Tubman 20 would be a slap in the face to women in particular, but also to the majority of Americans sampled in numerous national polls, who support the end of Andrew Jackson's reign on the $20 and his replacement with a symbol of freedom and inclusion, Harriet Tubman.
The President elect's chief of staff Reince Priebus reportedly joked recently that the President-elect might one day grace the $20 bill instead of Tubman. Thank goodness our Founding Fathers saw fit to rule that no living person could be featured in the portraits on our paper bills. The theory is they were trying to prevent any emperor from engaging in self aggrandisement, thus appearing without his or her clothes.Take note, Mr. Priebus.
Women on 20s reaction to Secretary Lew announcement
After more than a year of campaigning to convince the U.S. Treasury to replace the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with the face of a female American hero, Women On 20s is ready to claim victory, but only if Secretary Lew commits to issuing the new $20 bill alongside the $10 by 2020.
Secretary Lew’s choice of the freed slave and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman to one day feature on the $20 note is an exciting one, especially given that she emerged as the choice of more than half a million voters in our online poll last Spring. Not only did she devote her life to racial equality, she fought for women’s rights alongside the nation’s leading suffragists.
We are gratified to have sparked a conversation about the symbols and historical figures that define us as a nation. But until Secretary Lew commits to inclusion of women in the portrait gallery of paper currency in the near future, we see work ahead.
“What was to be a celebration of female American heroes for our 100th anniversary of inclusion in the democracy cannot be postponed,” said Women On 20s Founder Barbara Ortiz Howard. “It’s time to get the party started honoring women on the new $10 and a new $20 in time for 2020.”
Women On 20s Executive Director Susan Ades Stone added, “We had been looking to this Treasury Secretary to put a woman front and center as soon as possible and powerfully inspire the quest for gender equality going forward. In recent days reliable sources were telling us we wouldn’t see the redesigned $20 until 2030. Assuming this is true, we see today’s announcement as only a vague commitment and a continuation of the now familiar message that women have to settle for less and wait for their fair share.”
IT’S UP TO YOU TO MAKE THIS SHOT COUNT
Sunday, April 17 -- We’d like to take credit for what seems like a great victory for our cause to get a woman on the $20 bill. But we’re not there quite yet. Two minor bills -- the $10 and the $5 -- with barely discernible images of women on their back sides, and the promise of replacing the slave trading, Indian killing Jackson with a woman on the $20 fifteen years down the road is not the suffrage centennial celebration we were looking for. This affront to Native and African Americans on our most visible and used bill simply cannot continue. What we do in the next 48 hours could make all the difference in the world. But we need your help to turn this into a momentous celebration.
We still have a chance to influence President Obama and Treasury Secretary Lew to fast-track the change to the $20 so women can at last have a bill all their own. And we will continue to apply pressure to get women better billing on the two bills that will come out first, the $10 and the $5.
Why are we insisting the Administration get this right and commit to it now? Because the nation – and young people most importantly – were promised that women would very soon get the real respect they are due. Fifteen years is not soon in anybody’s book. And the backs of two bills in the meantime will amount to an insult. Time to take the reins away from the men who are calling the shots in this influence game and give women a shot of their own.
TREASURY ANNOUNCEMENT SET FOR NEXT WEEK. OUR PRESS RELEASE.
NEW YORK, April 15, 2016 -- Women On 20s has confirmed with reliable sources that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew plans to announce next week his design for the new $10 bill. The decision, formulated last fall, is to keep Alexander Hamilton as the sole portrait on the front of the bill and place a scene depicting women on the back side. While sources say the $20 bill will be redesigned in the future, and could feature a woman’s portrait replacing Andrew Jackson, it could be 2030 before that bill would appear in circulation and no commitment will be made to bring it out sooner.
As the organization that started the national conversation early last year about the importance of elevating women to a place of honor in the all-male portrait gallery that is our paper currency, Women On 20s considers it deeply disturbing that Secretary Lew would renege on his public commitment to prominently feature a single woman on the next new bill.
It was particularly disingenuous for Lew to invite the public to participate in the redesign process and then completely disregard the overwhelming sentiment that it should be the $20 bill that gets the facelift by 2020 to celebrate women, displacing the disgraced Andrew Jackson and preserving the popular Hamilton on the $10.
Instead, by refusing to redesign the $10 and the $20 SIMULTANEOUSLY, Lew is sending a resounding message that women and their accomplishments are not worthy of equal representation. We hear you loud and clear, Secretary Lew: the back of the bill is not good enough for our male heroes, but it’s fine for women.
With this decision, Secretary Lew is proving, once again, that in America it’s still a man’s world. It was a chorus of mostly men who implored him to keep Hamilton on the $10, and he listened. But he was tone deaf to the second part of the message, which was to change the portrait on the $20 instead. What we’re left with is the same old, same old.
What is particularly alarming is: if we can’t get close to equal billing on something as simple as our currency, what hope is there for the bigger challenges ahead of equal pay or overall gender equality.
Hamilton may have thrown away his shot, Secretary Lew, but you’re about to throw away yours, too. With this decision, you’re teaching a generation of schoolchildren that women don’t have the same shot as men. Maybe when today’s grade schoolers get to college they’ll finally get to see a woman’s portrait on their money….if there is, indeed, any paper money in use by then.
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CELEBRATE OUR BIRTHDAY AND WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH BY SHARING OUR MESSAGE ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
To celebrate our one-year birthday, on March 1, 2016 we redoubled our efforts and launched a new social media strategy using the hashtags: #TheNew10, #TheNew20 and #DitchJackson, in tweets, posts and emails along with the special money changing graphic GIF seen above. We encourage you to keep the momentum going and continue to send this message out during Women’s History Month. With a united voice, we aim to send a strong message that a woman deserves to be on the $20 dollar bill. Find us on Twitter @WomenOn20s and Facebook where we hope you'll retweet our graphics & posts to help the message go viral! And don't worry, if you aren't on Twitter, we'll still help you get your voice heard all the way to the Treasury Department. Check the "Join In" tab in the navigation bar above for easy ways to write your senators and post a tweet.
IS TIME ON OUR SIDE? WE CERTAINLY HOPE SO
Today Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced he will delay his decision on the redesign of the $10 bill until 2016, after having earlier promised a decision by the end of this year. He says he needs more time to consider the input he's receiving from the public. Having started this national conversation with our campaign to have an iconic American woman replace the now infamous Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, we at Women On 20s are hopeful the Secretary will come around to adopting our idea of a women’s suffrage vignette on the opposite side of the Hamilton $10, while honoring a woman on the $20 bill, as petitioned by our 600,000 voters. Surely the Treasury can push for both by 2020.
In the months since we launched this effort on March 1, 2015, momentum has been building from statehouses to college campuses and beyond to change the way we remember our nation’s history. While we can’t erase the misdeeds and injustices perpetrated by some of the leaders we once revered, we can change the narrative we teach future generations in powerful ways. Our paper bills serve as pocket monuments – everyday reminders of who and what we value. It shouldn’t take decades to remove a slave trader and Indian oppressor from the ubiquitous $20 and replace him with the freed slave and freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman. If you agree, let Secretary Lew and President Obama know. Apparently they’re still listening.
OUR CONCEPT FOR THE “OTHER SIDE” OF THE NEW $20
Last July Women On 20s presented U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios with this artist’s rendering we commissioned as a concept for the opposite side of the $20 bill. It is a vignette picturing iconic figures who fought for women’s rights, leading to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing women the right to vote. We later engaged the public in a contest to name the figures in the scene. The answers can be found under the Join In "The Other Side" tab above. How many can you identify?
Women On 20s: Continuing to Lead the Charge for the Twenty
Op Ed - August 26, 2015
A Woman’s Place Is On the $20: How Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Betrayed a Movement
By Susan Ades Stone & Barbara Ortiz Howard
Despite generations of inclusion in our democracy, women have a lot of catching up to do as of today, the 95th anniversary of the date we were at long last given the right to vote. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had a golden opportunity to move things in the right direction for the 51% — by deciding finally to put an unsung female hero on our male-only paper currency. Unfortunately, he’s on the road to blowing it.
This is a national movement we’re proud to have inspired — holding an online poll that attracted more than 600,000 votes to replace Andrew Jackson on the widely used $20 bill. In a stroke of poetic justice, freed slave, freedom fighter and suffragist Harriet Tubman was the people’s choice to replace the slave-trading, Indian-killing seventh President. Schoolchildren pumped about being a part of historic change and minting some new role models were among the most enthusiastic participants in that campaign.
From the beginning, we were under the impression that it was the $20 bill that was next up for redesign; it said so on the Treasury Department’s own website. Overhauling that bill would have made perfect sense. For too long, with Jackson’s image spewing from every ATM, we’ve been sending the world the wrong message about what we value.
What’s more, the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage arrives in 2020, and issuing a new $20 bill in time to celebrate and value women’s contributions to our democracy would be natural.
Imagine our surprise and disappointment when in June, Lew revealed his plans — with barely a mention of our half-million-strong grass-roots campaign that had taken social and mainstream media by storm. He said the woman he chooses will go not on the $20 bill, but on the far less circulated $10 — and will somehow share that bill with its current occupant, the revered architect of our democracy and financial system, Alexander Hamilton.
By not evicting Jackson (who, ironically, despised paper money and Hamilton’s central banking system), diminishing Hamilton and giving women shared billing, Lew managed to please almost no one and offend many. By any calculus, half a ten hardly equals a twenty. Read the Full OpEd in the NY Daily News
#TheNew10 Spawns Controversy...and Levity
EDITORIAL - July 4, 2015:
Take Jackson Off the $20 Bill, Put a Woman in His Place
There is no question that the United States should put a woman on its paper currency. But the Treasury Department’s plan to put one on the $10 bill, which currently has the image of Alexander Hamilton, is the wrong way to do it.....
.....A better idea is to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill and replace him with a distinguished woman from American history. Jackson was a slave owner whose decisions annihilated American Indian tribes of the Southeast. He also hated paper currency and vetoed the reauthorization of the Second Bank of the United States, a predecessor of the Federal Reserve. Jackson is in the history books, but there’s no reason to keep him in our wallets. Read the full editorial in The New York Times
Where Women On 20s Stands Today
The last few months have been an incredible journey for Women On 20s and we are grateful for the tremendous public support our mission has gathered for ending the male monopoly on the national monument we know as our paper currency.
Together we have made an historic impact, bringing important dialogue about valuing the abilities and accomplishments of women to schools, dinner tables, legislative halls, social media forums and editorial outlets. It has been an unprecedented 4-month coast-to-coast conversation. More than a half million people cast votes, not for pop stars, but for historic women who deserve to be celebrated and held up as examples of what young girls can aspire to become – agents of great change who will be recognized and respected alongside influential men who move our country forward.
What began with one person’s dream to celebrate the 2020 centennial of women’s suffrage with a fitting tribute grew into a call for action that couldn’t be ignored. And on June 18th, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced a plan in the works to put a woman on the next bill up for redesign – the $10 note.
Frankly, the choice of the $10 and not the $20 was a surprise to us. We targeted the $20 because it is a ubiquitous bill bearing the image Andrew Jackson, known more today for his mistreatment of Native Americans, involvement in the slave trade and hatred of paper currency than any other aspect of his legacy. We had no desire to unseat the exemplary Alexander Hamilton, a visionary founding father who designed our monetary system. But we were just as surprised to learn along with the public that Hamilton would not be going away, he would just be sharing the bill with the first woman on paper money in well over a century. And while the new design would be unveiled in 2020, the actual bills would not be circulated for several more years after that. It seems as a nation we can do better job of celebrating women and their worth and do it in a timely way.
Since the announcement, we have been paying close attention to the public reaction and debate. We also have partaken in private briefings with the White House and U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios to learn more about the rationale for choosing the $10 and the seemingly overstretched timeline for its redesign. The answers, so far, have not convinced us that more cannot be done. While we are pleased that a woman will take her rightful place on the new $10 bill, the intentions for the more visible, more numerous and more internationally circulated $20 bill should be announced as well. And perhaps an interim portrait change can be fast tracked, even if a more comprehensive security redesign cannot happen for another decade.
Secretary Lew told a recent gathering at The Brookings Institution that his mind is made up about the $10, but it is his intention to stimulate national debate on the redesign. With all due respect, what is the point of debate if there's no room for a change of mind and direction? Nonetheless, we're taking up the challenge with some points and counterpoints you can find here on the $10 vs. the $20.
The Women On 20s Campaign History