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Harriet Tubman

Source: MPI / Getty

A pistol-packing sister who, in her lifetime, was hunted as a criminal in the South, served as a cook, spy and nurse during the Civil War, and led over 200 slaves to freedom is now the front-runner to be the first woman, and first African American, to appear on a US twenty dollar bill.

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The Women On 20’s campaign announced that Harriet Tubman has won their poll to determine which

American woman should appear on the next $20 bill! That’s significant in itself, because Harriet Tubman edged out other outstanding women such as Eleanor Roosevelt, who was second in votes, and Rosa Parks, who was third, among others. It’s also worth noting that $20 was the amount she received as a monthly pension from the US Government as her pension for her service as nurse, scout, cook and spy during the Civil War as well as being the widow of a veteran!

Harriet, born a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is best known for leading groups of runaway slaves north before they were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Navigating by the stars at night, hiding during the day and cleverly evading slave hunters, she successfully led hundreds of slaves to freedom in the north on repeated trips south, on foot, to slaveholding states, leading to a $40,000 bounty being placed on her head. She was also famous for showing would-be escapees her pistol and promising to kill them rather than let them turn back and possibly jeopardize the escape of the others. It’s not known whether she ever had to actually shoot anyone.

The Women On 20’s campaign has now petitioned President Obama asking him to order the Secretary of the Treasury to, in their words, “change the current portrait portrayed on our American $20 bank note to reflect the remarkable accomplishments of an exemplary American woman who has helped shape our Nation’s great history.” The President has expressed an interest in seeing distinguished American women portrayed on our money. The Secretary of the Treasury has jurisdiction over whose portraits appear on US currency. Though the process takes years, one day soon, the first woman, an African American woman, may be the face you see on your 20 dollar bills!

In my opinion, Harriet Tubman would be an excellent choice!

Jerry Wells

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