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Apr 26, 2016 3:46 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

West Hampton Dunes Woman Advocates For Female Faces On US Currency

Barbara Howard and Susan Ades Stone created the group Women on 20's, an organization dedicated to getting a woman represented on the 20 dollar bill. COURTESY BARBARA HOWARD
Apr 26, 2016 4:40 PM

Since the founding of the United States and the introduction of paper money in the 1700s, the business of American money has been a government-issued part of the “old boys club.”From presidents like George Washington, to Founding Fathers like Benjamin Franklin—influential, wealthy, white men alone have adorned mass-produced American bank notes, painting an often slanted picture of the key figures in U.S. history and ignoring some of the most prolific figures in the fight for freedom and equal rights.

But all that is about to change.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew announced that—following a campaign launched by Barbara Howard, a West Hampton Dunes resident, and her Manhattan-based friend Susan Ades Stone—the new face of the American $20 bill will be Harriet Tubman, a woman and former slave known for her work with the Underground Railroad, which rescued runaway slaves from the South in pre-Civil War years. Ms. Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson—a known slave owner who will be, ironically, sent to the back of the bill.

“It is amazing that we can show the world that we really have evolved enough to replace a slave trader with a freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman,” Ms. Howard said this week. “We can put our money where our mouth is and show that we value freedom and freedom fighters.”

In February 2015, Ms. Howard and Ms. Stone took up the fight to have a woman replace Andrew Jackson as the face of the $20 bill and launched Women On 20s, a nonprofit designed to remove Mr. Jackson—a president remembered not only as a slaveholder but also for the forced relocation of Native Americans along the “Trail of Tears”—and instead honor a woman influential in history.

Over the course of several months, the pair took a list of 100 women they thought worthy of the recognition and whittled it down to 15: Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. From March 1 through April 5, votes were cast by 256,659 people in an online pole posted on womenon20s.org, narrowing the list down to three finalists: Ms. Roosevelt, Ms. Tubman and Ms. Parks.

While voting was taking place, Ms. Howard received an email from Dyani Brown, a Southampton native and member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, asking why Native American women were not being represented in the poll. Ms. Howard explained that several women had been included in the original list of 100 but did not make it to the final list. However, after receiving several more inquiries from women nationwide, Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller was added to the final poll.

“I was happy with the outcome,” Ms. Brown said in a phone interview this week. “While she did have a Native American candidate in the finals, I felt there were other women who had more of an impact to the community as a whole, not just their tribes.”

The initial outreach connected Ms. Brown to the organization, and she went on to become an advocate for the cause in national and local media outlets.

After another round of voting, on May 12 the organization announced that Ms. Tubman had won, with another 300,000 votes cast in the contest. That same day, the organization sent the results and a petition to both President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Lew. They received a response several days later from the White House, informing them that something was going to be done.

On June 17, the women were invited to the unveiling of a new plan to place the face of a woman on the new $10 bill. The woman’s face would have replaced that of Alexander Hamilton, but a recent surge in his popularity, in part due to the smash Broadway musical about him, inspired a campaign to keep his visage on the currency—and the Treasury eventually decided to change the $20 bill instead.

Last week, the Treasury Department announced several new changes coming to American currency in the form of $5 bills, $10 bills, and the $20 bill. The front of the $20 bill will feature Ms. Tubman, while the reverse will show the White House and an iconic image of Mr. Jackson.

Mr. Hamilton will remain on the front of the $10 bill, but the reverse will be redesigned to honor iconic women from the women’s suffrage movement, depicting a march for women’s suffrage in March 1913 from the U.S. Capitol to the steps of the Treasury Department.

On the new $5 bill, images of Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. will be added to the back, while President Abraham Lincoln will remain the face of the bank note.

While this is the first time women will be the focus of paper money in the United States, the country did briefly have Susan B. Anthony as the face of the $1 coin in the 1970s. However, due to the size and weight of the coin compared to paper money, only 800 million were minted before they were discontinued.

In 2000, another dollar coin showing Shoshone Indian Sacagawea was also released, but, due to a lack of popularity, the coin has been minted only 300 million times.

All three paper currencies are currently being redesigned by the Treasury, with the final drawings set to be released to the public by 2020 and put into circulation shortly after.

“As you can imagine, right now we are very, very happy,” Ms. Howard said. “Right now, we want to take in the depth of this great victory and celebrate it, and be grateful for having achieved such a historic change.”

Ms. Howard, who splits her time between West Hampton Dunes and Yonkers, said she is thrilled to have Ms. Tubman become the new face of the $20 bill, observing that few people could be more deserving. “She has a broad range of accomplishments along with her integrity,” Ms. Howard said. “I think we can have no greater hero to put out to the world and claim as our own and be proud of.

“I believe very strongly that when oppressed people have the chance to see this bill they will know that freedom is still possible, and there is hope,” she continued. “It will inspire people to seek their own freedom, because slavery is not gone from our planet.”

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Why only a woman??? Remember JFK???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 28, 16 10:46 AM
Yep. His women included: Mimi Alford, Jill Cowen, Priscilla Wear, Judith Campbell Exner, Marlene Deitrich, Ellen Rometsch, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Pamela Turnure, and Blaze Starr.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 28, 16 4:11 PM
Condo owners seem to have so much time on their hands.
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Apr 28, 16 4:23 PM
Judging by her countenance on the twenty, I"d say Harriett was just asked to opine on 0bama's legacy.
By loading... (601), quiogue on Apr 29, 16 8:39 AM
to marlinspike:

Pocahontas appeared on the back of a $20 US banknote first issued in 1865. The engraving portrayed her baptism.

How many that would offend today?
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Apr 29, 16 9:15 AM
Harriet Tubman was a proud 2nd amendment supporter and a republican! Right on!
By jams (129), hampton bays on May 5, 16 11:47 AM