Women On 20s wants a female face on paper currency in time for the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment
image via youtube screen capture
Money, it seems, is something of a boys’ club. George, Abraham, Andrew, and (if we’re lucky) Benjamin stare out at us from our wallets without a single female counterpoint to offset the unanimously Y-chromosomal state of our paper currency. But, with the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment (that’d be the one prohibiting any U.S. citizen from being denied the right to vote based on their sex) on the horizon in 2020, there’s a new campaign underway to bring some much-needed female perspective to our money problems: Specifically, by replacing Andrew Jackson with a woman on the twenty dollar bill.
Why Jackson? As the just-launched “Women On 20s” website explains:
1. Andrew Jackson was celebrated for his military prowess, for founding the Democratic party and for his simpatico with the common man. But as the seventh president of the United States, he also helped gain Congressional passage of the "Indian Removal Act of 1830" that drove Native American tribes of the Southeastern United States off their resource-rich land and into Oklahoma to make room for white European settlers. Commonly known as the Trail of Tears, the mass relocation of Indians resulted in the deaths of thousands from exposure, disease and starvation during the westward migration. Not okay.
2. Some argue that because Jackson was a fierce opponent of the central banking system and favored gold and silver coin or "hard money" over paper currency, he is an ironic choice for immortalization on our money.
In a profile for The New Yorker, Women On 20s founder Barbara Ortiz Howard describes being influenced by the social protest movements of her youth, explaining:
"I grew up in the sixties and had strong feelings about women’s rights, and everyone’s rights. We marched against the Vietnam War and for civil rights and women’s rights back then"
While there are two women currently depicted on U.S. coins (suffragette Susan B. Anthony and Louis and Clark guide Sacagawea) neither’s metal currency has seen the high rates of circulation their male, paper counterparts enjoy. With that in mind, Howard, and her Women On 20s co-founder Susan Ades Stone, began looking into what it would take to get a woman’s face on a twenty. The process, as it turns out, is not nearly as complicated as one might expect. Per The New Yorker, determining who gets their face on our money is the purview of the Secretary of the Treasury, the sole criteria being the person being depicted has to be dead.
Women On 20s has come up with 15 possible candidates, including notables like Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, and Shirley Chisholm, and are asking for the public’s help in choosing which to go with. The goal, they explain, is to present the winning selection to the President–who, in July of last year, seemed receptive of the idea–rather than take their candidate to the treasury secretary directly, all in an effort to publicly showcase the support they’ve built around the issue.