'Show me the Tubmans'
Dr. E. Faye Williams | 7/4/2019, 6 a.m.
When President Obama left the White House, he left a very positive image of what a president should be. He set a high standard for his staff, with no swamp creatures running around his administration and no scandals emerging in the eight years he was in office. Even those who might have had a few differences with him look back and wish we could have him back in the White House to clean up what is there now.
I will never forget the day we learned that the people had spoken about which woman should be on the $20 bill. It was a magical day when we heard the news that we would see Harriet Tubman on the bill in 2020. The decision came about when, in 2014, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from Ohio, introduced the Woman on the Twenty Act, HR 2147. In April 2016, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that Harriet Tubman would be on the $20 bill, suffragists would be on the $10 bill and other historical figures would be on the $5 bill. We were told the redesigns would be unveiled in 2020.
Then at the end of 2016 came that disastrous day when the Russians helped to deliver the presidency to the most undeserving person our country has seen in modern times. Less than a year later, during an August 2017 tele- vision appearance, Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to endorse putting Ms. Tubman on the $20 bill.
Shortly thereafter, Rep. Beatty contacted Mr. Mnuchin asking him to recommit to putting Ms. Tubman on the currency. A few weeks later, he responded that it would be more than 10 years before a new $20 bill would be released. Then 2018 passed by without much being said about the Trump Administration’s mean-spirited decision that Ms. Tubman wouldn’t be on the currency while Mr. Mnuchin is secretary. Not to be defeated, Rep. Beatty renewed the “Woman on the Twenty” Act, HR 3082, in June.
A few days ago, a crowd of men and women showed up at Mr. Mnuchin’s door on the steps of the Treasury Department to tell him he doesn’t have the final word on this issue. In the crowd, there were more than 20 House members and a lot of supporters from diverse backgrounds.
As I walked backed to my office with my “Show Me the Tubmans” sign in my hand, numerous people enthusiastically gave a thumbs up. Now, I know that the boss man in the White House and his minions want to prevent Ms. Tubman from being on the $20 bill so that women can’t celebrate in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the constitutional right to vote. We already know how little respect this administration has for women, especially black women. But that will not deter us from having Ms. Tubman on the $20 bill.
The disrespect this administration has shown to Black women is not just about us. It’s disrespectful to men and women of all colors and cultures who voted to put Ms. Tubman on the currency and to all who want to have at least one woman on the money. I know it’s hard for racists and misogynists to give up old Andrew Jackson, but it will happen.
Along with Rep. Beatty, I call on all fair-minded people — men and women — to demand that we get Harriet Tubman on the money as scheduled by former Treasury Secretary Lew and President Obama. Until it’s done or #45 is out of office, everywhere #45 and Mr. Mnuchin go, they should hear the words or see the signs, “Show Me the Tubmans” or “Tubman on the Twenty.”
The writer is president of the National Congress of Black Women.