On Wednesday (May 22), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin revealed that Harriet Tubman will not appear on the $20 bill as planned for 2020.
In 2016, during Pres. Barack Obama’s last year in office, the Treasury Department said it would replace former President Andrew Jackson’s image (Jackson was one of the most racist presidents in history) on the bill with Tubman’s and introduce redesigns of the $5 and $10 bill.
This sparked poignant questioning from Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts who grilled Mnuchin during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
When asked whether or not the redesign will be complete by 2020, Mnuchin said he is not focused on making any changes to the bill’s imagery.
“We will meet the security feature redesign (goal) in 2020. The imagery feature will not be an issue that comes up until most likely 2026,” he replied. “It is not a decision that is likely to come until way past my term, even if I serve a second term for the president, so I am not focused on that at the moment.”
One of the main reasons Mnuchin says the currency imagery won’t change is because they’re more focused on “counterfeiting issues.” However, he would not directly answer whether he believes the famed abolitionist should be on the bill.
Ayanna Pressley later took to Twitter to voice her outrage. “People other than white men built this county. And Sec Mnuchin agrees, yet he refuses to update our #currency,” she tweeted. “#HarrietTubman #MarianAnderson & #EleanorRoosevelt are iconic Americans & its past time that our [money] reflects that. #RepresentationMatters.”
People other than white men built this county. And Sec Mnuchin agrees, yet he refuses to update our #currency. #HarrietTubman #MarianAnderson & #EleanorRoosevelt are iconic Americans & its past time that our 💵 reflects that. #RepresentationMatters | https://t.co/nJmhiktHPm pic.twitter.com/hKQSR3Gl8P— Rep Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) May 22, 2019
Currently, only white men are on United States paper money. The last woman to be on a bill was Martha Washington, who was on the $1 silver certificate. In 2016, Donald Trump said the Obama Administration's decision to lobby for Tubman to be on the $20 bill was “political correctness” and offered her to be placed on the $2.
Pressley wasn’t the only one outraged at the last minute denial of Harriet Tubman’s rightful place on the $20 bill. See what people had to say below.
Today Trump cancelled Obama's plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill in 2020. He claims it's delayed for 8 more years.— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) May 22, 2019
Tubman was a strong black woman with more courage in a single hair follicle than Trump has in his entire body.
Trump hates strong black women!
Steve Mnuchin blocking Harriet Tubman from being placed on the $20 bill is a move that panders only to racists and White Supremacists. Period.— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) May 23, 2019
They're out here trying to erase Harriet Tubman but fighting for Robert E Lee statues. We see you.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) May 22, 2019
Make no mistake: the decision to cancel the unveiling of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is purely to pander to white supremacy. Period.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) May 23, 2019
Being “delayed until 2028” is a goddamn lie. This is an attempt to make fragile white people comfortable.
Trump is working overtime to keep Harriet Tubman off money but aggressively defending confederate statues.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) May 23, 2019
This man is a white supremacist, and the media needs to stop equivocating on his racism.
They don’t want Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill because she’s black and a hero and this administration is filled with racists, every last one. https://t.co/bX1xKrcHdG— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) May 23, 2019
The decision to block Harriet Tubman from the redesign of the $20 bill is callous and yet another attack on Black women.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) May 23, 2019
No matter how hard they try, they can’t erase our central role in American history or wipe away the contributions of our Black heroes. #HarrietTubman https://t.co/PRWnfuC2ON
Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images