Andrew Jackson has been the face of the 20 dollar bill for 87 years, and many people including the WomenOn20s campaign believe that it is time a woman took his spot. The W20’s campaign aims to to put a woman on the $20 bill by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the United States. The $20 bill was chosen as the focus of the campaign for two reasons:
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. Jackson was a fierce opponent of the central banking system and favored gold and silver coin or “hard money” over paper currency, so he is an ironic choice for immortalization on our money.
Currently, there is no US currency that features a woman. In the past we have had Susan B. Anthony dollar coins and Sacajawea dollar coins, but those are no longer being printed. With the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment fast approaching, now is the perfect time to feature a woman on the $20 bill.
The campaign has gained so much tractions that the New York Times published several pieces written by feminists like Gloria Steinem, Roxanne Gay, and Linda Chavez that suggest female candidate for the $20 bill. Some of the most popular contenders include: Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Pasty Mink, Margaret Sanger, Harriet Tubman, and many many more.
So far, more than 72,000 have voted in the online poll. Ades Stone, the organizer of the W20 campaign said, “the competition has narrowed to a very close race” but has not said who’s in the lead. When asked about the criteria a candidate should meet, Stone commented, “we stuck very closely to this rubric of evaluating every candidate by the breadth of their impact: how transformational was their contribution?” And the other factor we asked people to consider were ‘what were the challenges these people faced?”
The movement was born out of Stone and co-organizer Barbara Howard realizing that young American girls have no daily reminder of the contributions women have made to our society. “Part of the mission, besides getting a woman on the $20 bill, is to educate as many people as possible about as many women as possible.”
Ultimately, the decision about whether to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill is up to the Treasury Secretary, but Secretary Lew is unlikely to make a change without the President’s approval. There is hope though: last year, when a young girl asked Obama why there weren’t any women on U.S. currency and provided a list of good candidates, he said adding a woman was a “pretty good idea.”
“We wanted this to be a grassroots movement, we wanted it to come from the people, and we wanted this to be a referendum,” Ades says. “It’s up to the President to decide what to do.”