Opinion: Why the $20 bill should have a new face

Carley Hull is a senior news major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at chull9@kent.edu.

Carley Hull is a senior news major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Carley Hull

A new face could be printed on U.S. currency, but it won’t be another president or a man. 

The nonprofit organization called Women On 20s started a campaign to create a new $20 bill featuring a woman by 2020, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. 

The organization created a platform for people of all genders to vote for his or her top choices on the Women On 20s website, and has narrowed down 100 potential candidates for the $20 bill down to 15 women in American history: Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Rachel Carson, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, Barbara Jordan, Patsy Mink, Rosa Parks, Alice Paul, Frances Perkins, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. ­­­­ 

U.S. circulated currency featuring women has always been minimal. According to the U.S. Mint, Helen Keller appeared on Alabama’s 2003 quarter, Sacagawea has appeared on the dollar coin since 1999 and Susan B. Anthony appeared on the dollar coin from 1979 to 1981. Martha Washington was the only woman to appear on paper money in 1886, 1891 and 1896, according to CNN. According to The New Yorker, U.S. currency has featured eight Presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, and James Madison), two Treasury Secretaries (Alexander Hamilton and Salmon Chase) and Benjamin Franklin. 

The number of men, all of whom are also white, is not only unfair, but not right, given the great women and men of all ethnicities who have made a positive change in American history. I think the Women On 20s campaign is a step in the right direction to add diversity to paper money.

The campaign is also a wonderful idea, not only as a way to celebrate powerful women, but to get a very undeserving president and racist off of the $20 bill. 

The $20 bill currently holds the face of President Andrew Jackson, known mostly for his successful military career. What Jackson is also known for is supporting and issuing the forceful removal of Native Americans from their homes. In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law, allowing U.S. troops to escort more than 15,000 Cherokees from their Georgia homes to Oklahoma from 1838 to 1839. An estimated 4,000 Native Americans died during this trek to Oklahoma in an event American history calls the Trail of Tears. 

In short, this president held at such a high regard for his military career issued a genocide that should lead him to never be celebrated. 

Our currency shouldn’t celebrate racists and murderers. Printing people’s faces on U.S. dollars should be a way to celebrate the great work and achievements of those who helped change America for the greater good. Many women in U.S. history have had a positive effect on our country and society and having one of their faces on the $20 bill would be a great way to keep celebrating their accomplishments.

Contact Carley Hull at [email protected].