Harriet Tubman is my choice for the $20 bill

harriet_tubman20Previously I mentioned Put a woman on the $20 bill when trying to winnow the list down from 15 choices. At the time, I voted for Margaret Sanger, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman. My bias was against voting for anyone born in the 20th century, although I gave consideration to Rachel Carson.

From the website: “Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks were named by as many as half of the voters in the Primary Round as one of their top three! Because of strong public sentiment that people should have the choice of a Native American to replace Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, was added to the final ballot.”

In the final round, I remain disinclined to vote for people who were alive in my lifetime. Wilma Mankiller (b. 1945), Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and first elected female Chief of a Native nation in modern times, died only in 2010, and I know relatively little about her.

While I admire Rosa Parks (b. 1913), I’ve thought that, as she was hardly the first person to refuse to go to the back of the bus, though she was the “proper” choice. Moreover, she died in 2005.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962) actually died in my lifetime as well, but I’m such a fan, I seriously considered her. A friend of mine was opposed to her because she served from a position of privilege, but I LIKE it when the well-to-do act to help those less fortunate.

Still, Harriet Tubman (c.1822 – 1913) was remarkable.

She returned to the South an estimated 19 times to rescue her family and others from bondage as a “conductor” on… the Underground Railroad, an elaborate secret network of safe houses leading to freedom in the North. Later, with her intimate knowledge of the geography and transportation systems of the South, she became a valuable asset to the Union army as a spy and scout.

After the war, Tubman continued her service to others. She advocated for education and property for freed slaves in the South and she cared for the elderly and poor. Later, she joined the early campaigners for women’s equality and suffrage.

Her Herculean accomplishments were attributed to extraordinary courage, shrewdness and determination. The Quaker Thomas Garrett said of her, “If she had been a white woman, she would have been heralded as the greatest woman of her age.”

I don’t know how long the voting will last. The previous round lasted five weeks, from March 1st to April 5th. I assume this final round will end soon, so vote now.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Harriet Tubman is my choice for the $20 bill”

  1. I voted for Harriet Tubman after winnowing my considerable list down to Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt and Sojourner Truth (“Ain’t I a woman?” One of the best speeches in history). Susan B. Anthony had already been featured on a coin… Rachel Carson made my short list as well! Rosa Parks is too often credited with a seemingly unilateral action, which does not give credit to the NAACP and all the people who were involved in organizing. (I finally talked our band out of playing “What Can One Little Person Do?” on the Selma anniversary Sunday. They do it every year, and it just kills me when THAT MANY white people don’t understand this country’s history, perpetuating the myth that King, Tubman, and Parks operated in some sort of vacuum. Especially when we are a multi-racial congregation!! And UCC. I had to do some schooling on that one to convince our (all-Anglo) band.)

    But Harriet Tubman was a force of nature. Her courage, her innate sense of justice, her witness to action… as my daughter would say, Tubman was “the nth.” Amy

  2. From the Book of Mathew:

    But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, Why tempt you me? bring me a dollar, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he said to them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said to him, Harriet Tubman’s. And Jesus answering said to them, Render to Harriet… wait, what?

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