The move comes as the Treasury Department announced a slew of changes to paper currency on Wednesday as part of an attempt to honor Tubman and civil rights leaders.
“Today, I’m excited to announce that for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman, Harriet Tubman, on the $20 note,” said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Harriet Tubman, born in 1820 in Maryland, escaped slavery in 1849. Tubman had many times returned to the plantation to help other slaves escape, including family.
Tubman was given the nickname “Moses” due to her work leading slaves to freedom. She helped over 300 slaves escape to freedom.
Originally Alexander Hamilton was set to be removed from the ten dollar bill, but many were critical of the decision due to his part in creating the American financial system. Hamilton also benefitted from the popular musical, Hamilton, which helped to raise awareness about the founding father and lead to an outpouring of support. It was then decided that Jackson would instead be replaced.
Activists working to get a woman on the currency initially targeted Jackson, especially for his role in the Trail of Tears where thousands of Native Americans were forced off their territory into government reservations. Estimates indicate up to 6,000 Native Americans passed away during the journey.
Jackson will remain on the back of the ten dollar bill, along with a picture of the White House.
In addition, there are changes coming to the ten and five dollar bills. The ten dollar bill’s back will highlight the women’s suffrage movement while the five’s back will highlight people who were involved with “historic events” that took place at the Lincoln Memorial. On the back of the ten will be Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul. On the back of five will be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Marian Anderson, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Paul had a national monument named for her by President Obama earlier this month.
In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution did not allow Anderson, who was African-American, to sing at Constitution Hall. This was despite it being an integrated audience and Anderson being one of the most popular singers at the time and the twentieth century. Roosevelt and her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stepped in and Anderson performed at the Lincoln Memorial to more than 75,000 people gathered and millions more on the radio.
“On the back of the ten, we are going to tell the story of women’s suffrage, it is going to have the leaders of the suffrage movement, culminating in a rally on the steps of the Treasury Department building,” Lew explained, “On the back of the five, we are going to have an image of Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt.”