Monday, April 25, 2016


"How Harriet Tubman kicked Andrew Jackson off the front of your $20 bill?" PBS NewsHour 4/20/2016


SUMMARY:  For the first time in over 100 years, famous American women will appear on U.S. paper currency.  Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, a group of suffragists will be added to the $10 bill and the $5 bill will show Eleanor Roosevelt and singer Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial.  Treasury Secretary Jack Lew joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the changes.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It has been a much anticipated decision, but the United States' currency is in for the first changes in a long time, giving new prominence to civil rights and women's history in this country.

The familiar greenbacks haven't seen a new face in almost 90 years.  And when the Treasury Department announced last year a woman might grace a bill for the first time in history, there was jubilation from American women, but a backlash from Alexander Hamilton fans, who were upset over anyone replacing him on the $10 bill.

The first secretary of the treasury, Hamilton has become a darling of popular culture with the runaway success of the Broadway musical named after him.  There was plenty of feedback and even some indignation at the suggestion Hamilton might be replaced.

Today, after much speculation, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced it's the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, who loses his spot on the front of the $20 bill.  He will be replaced by Harriet Tubman, the Civil War anti-slavery activist and a leader of the Underground Railroad.

Hamilton stays put on the $10 bill, but the reverse side will now include leaders of the women's suffrage movement, including Susan B. Anthony, and another abolitionist, Sojourner Truth.

The $5 bill also gets an update to include civil rights leaders such Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr.

I caught up with Treasury Secretary Lew earlier today.

Secretary Jack Lew, thank you for joining us.

JACK LEW, Secretary of the Treasury:  Great to be with you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, big decision, the first time a woman is going on the face of a piece of U.S. currency that's in wide circulation.

Why Harriet Tubman?

JACK LEW:  You know, when we started the public discussion of this almost a year ago, I said it's been almost 100 years since we have had a woman on our currency, and that had to change, and it had to change as soon as possible.

We went through a process of listening.  And I kind of did it the old-fashioned way.  We actually listened.  Heard from well over a million people in one way or another, responses through handwritten notes and e-mails and tweets and retweets.

And the amount of support and interest in Harriet Tubman was quite impressive.  It showed that the story of Harriet Tubman means a lot to people of all ages in this country, and it speaks to something very important about American democracy.

Here, a woman born a slave, illiterate her whole life, can, after spending countless trips going back and forth freeing people on an individual basis, worked for the Army to help — as a spy, help them find their way into battle in the Civil War, and then be a founder of the women's suffrage movement, how that can change our country.  And I think that's — it's a tremendous American story.

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