Feminists fighting to add influential women from history to American currency got good and bad news Wednesday.
Yes, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced his plan to replace controversial President Andrew Jackson with famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill.
But he backed out of a promise to put a female face on the front of the $10. Thanks in large part to the popularity of the Broadway hip-hop musical Hamilton, the founding father will remain on top while the back of the bill depicts suffragettes Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul.
Calling into Conversations with Maria Menounos, entrepreneur Shelley Zalis said she’s “really excited” for the first part of the proposal but finds the second “incredibly disturbing.”
“For us, it’s about visibility for women making a difference on the front of a bill and not the back. The back is certainly not the front. The only problem with what Jack Lew is saying is that the $20 bill is not up for redesign from a security perspective until 2030. It’s a long time away,” she explained. “So it’s just a pretty strange mixed message.”
Using the hashtag #NotGoingBack, activists like Zalis have taken to social media to urge the government to promise that a woman will be on the front of a bill in 2020, when the $10 is already up for redesign — and when the change is most symbolic as part of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.
“How do we ever move forward if we keep moving back? It’s really unfortunate, because this was a moment that was so not about Hamilton,” she said. “They made the decision for Hamilton in 2015, it was pre the musical. They knew that they were taking Hamilton from the front and memorializing him on the back, and to change your mind over the popularity of a musical — ”
“Ridiculous,” Menounos replied.
“So we’re going to keep going, and I want to get it in writing somehow that we can really verify and ensure the $20 is a reality in 2020. Because if we release the $10 and the $20 at the same time, good for us. I’d rather remove Andrew Jackson than Hamilton,” Zalis continued. “Hamilton was beloved, and it’s really unfortunate that the musical came out at this time because it was really locked and loaded that the woman would be on the front. … Now we are really reneging on our commitment.”
She suggested candidates including Tubman, Rosa Parks, Hellen Keller and, yes, first lady Michelle Obama, and online voters selected the escaped slave known as “Moses” last year.
Conversations with Maria Menounos airs weekdays at 1 pm ET on Sirius XM’s Stars (Ch. 109).
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Tags:alexander hamiltonandrew jacksonconversations with maria menounoshamiltonharriet tubmanmaria menounosshelley zalis
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