It's hard to be a young girl and to clearly see the path that you'll forge in this world — but if you're a young minority child or a young minority girl, it's downright difficult. The situation is improving, but many kids still see only white men holding the majority of power in their communities. After all, "You can't be what you can't see,” as Marian Wright Edelman, founder of The Children's Defense Fund, once famously said.
Case in point: Take a look at American money. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson are, without a doubt, important figures in American history — but so are Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton and Rachel Carson.
A new movement is afoot to put a woman on the $20 bill. Why the $20? The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, so it seems only fitting to mark that year and that anniversary by putting a woman on the $20.
In case you're wondering, yes we do already have women on money — sort of. There's the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, but it is so often mistaken for a quarter that it never really gained popularity. And in 2000, the U.S. Mint began issuing gold-colored dollar coins depicting Shoshone Indian guide Sacagawea. But again, the awkward size of the coin made it difficult to use. Over the years, there have been other instances of women appearing on commemorative issue coins, but can you remember the last time you used one? Me neither.
So maybe it's time for a change. But what about Andrew Jackson? Does he deserve to get booted from the $20 dollar bill? As our nation's seventh president, Jackson is credited with founding the Democratic party and is hailed for his military prowess in the War of 1812. But he also supported, signed and enforced the Indian Removal Act, a piece of legislation that forced Native American tribes of the Southeastern United States off their land and into Oklahoma to make room for white European settlers. The mass relocation of Native Americans, commonly referred to as the Trail of Tears, was responsible for the death of thousands of Indians from disease, exposure and starvation as they made their way across the country. Not exactly a legacy worth celebrating.
If the "Women on 20s" movement does gain traction, the next step will be deciding which woman gets the honor. There are currently 15 candidates including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, suffragist Alice Paul and Eleanor Roosevelt. You can vote for your favorite and learn more about all of the candidates at the Women on 20s website.
Will the year 2020 be the year that America put a woman on its currency? Stay tuned.
Related on MNN:
- 7 billionaires and their crazy-ingenious ideas
- How fast could you travel across the U.S. in the 1800s?
- The push to preserve human history at U.S. national parks