Every year on June 19, the world takes a second to remember the legal abolition of slavery in Texas on this day in 1865. The move allowed an estimated 250,000 enslaved people to be freed who weren’t initially included in the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln, which freed all enslaved people in the Confederate States not under the Union two and half years prior.
One of the key people in African American History who worked relentlessly to free slaves illegally for over a decade prior to this decision was Harriet Tubman. The name alone is a pillar for strength, perseverance and every bit of a hero in the eyes of a whole race of people. It’s for that reason that she 100% deserves to have her face on the $20 bill note as it relates to American currency. A news report from 2016 was one of the first official announcements for the plan, but forces in power within the Trump Administration are doing everything in their power to unfortunately delay and possible nix the plans altogether. Just last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denounced any plans of the $20 bill changing for almost another decade.
We obtained a preliminary design of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill. The Trump administration recently delayed its release. https://t.co/Jfnr0rUREt
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 14, 2019
The New York Times, who recently obtained an official mock-up of the bill, notes that the timing would be perfect for the redesign to go into effect. See below for a brief look at their breakdown of the significance of now:
“…work on the new $20 note began before Mr. Trump took office, and the basic design already on paper most likely could have satisfied the goal of unveiling a note bearing Tubman’s likeness on next year’s centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. An image of a new $20 bill, produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and obtained by The New York Times from a former Treasury Department official, depicts Tubman in a dark coat with a wide collar and a white scarf.
That preliminary design was completed in late 2016.
A spokeswoman for the bureau, Lydia Washington, confirmed that preliminary designs of the new note were created as part of research that was done after Jacob J. Lew, President Barack Obama’s final Treasury secretary, proposed the idea of a Tubman bill.”
The full NY Times report (read it here) goes on to suggest many reasons for the delay from a handful of reputable sources, ranging from as simple as a scheduling timeframe to to the more serious claim that Mnuchin is keeping it off Trump’s radar so he won’t cancel the plans altogether and create a social outcry.
As recently as today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has demanded a federal investigation into the issue according to the Washington Examiner, writing a whole letter to the inspector general of the Treasury Department to inquire why the department delayed replacing current $20 face-holder President Andrew Jackson in 2020.
Here’s one of his quotes that stands out the most:
“If the Empire State Building could be completed in 13 months almost 100 years ago, the 21st-century Treasury Department ought to be able to get this job done in a reasonable period of time.”
— Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader
Ultimately, on a day like today where we celebrate one of the most important of civil rights being given back to us as it always should’ve been, we also deserve to have this moment actualized. Mr.s Tubman is one of our biggest leaders in the movement to freedom, and she rightfully should be honored, respected and immortalized for her contributions to the world. We remember her today and every day that Black people walk this Earth not bound by chains, kept in line by whips or not used and abused because of the color of our skin.
America, let’s make this happen for Harriet. Happy Juneteenth!