There's Momentum to Put a Woman on the 20 Dollar Bill

March 26th 2015

Isabel Evans

Are we ready for a new face on our money? Women on 20s thinks so. Its campaign is aiming to get a woman’s face on the twenty-dollar bill by 2020, the anniversary of women’s suffrage. Women on 20s lists 15 possible candidates and invites voters to cast their choice for at least three historical women on the list. Candidates at this point include: Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and nine others. 

The campaign is focused on the $20 bill specifically so that a fresh female face can replace the stale visage of President Andrew Jackson (no one would dare remove the noble Abe). The site argues that Jackson is an obvious choice for removal for two reasons. For one, Jackson was behind the horrific Trail of Tears in the 1830s, the mass relocation of Cherokee Indians that resulted in the deaths of thousands. Secondly, Jackson was a major proponent of “hard money” over paper money, so it’s strange that we now count his countenance as a major symbol of American cash.

20 Dollar Bill

When you look at the list of female contenders who could take Jackson’s place, it’s hard not to agree it’s time for a change. From the bravery exemplified by Rosa Parks in the Civil Rights Movement to the pioneering social work of Eleanor Roosevelt, these are exemplary American women who would make the 20 dollar bill proud. 

Putting a woman on the 20 would also bring the U.S. up to speed with other nations. Queen Elizabeth is on the pound note in the U.K., and Eva Perón looks staunchly ahead on the Argentine Peso. So why shouldn’t Susan B. Anthony or Sojourner Truth have the same opportunity?

Eleanor Roosevelt

It would also just feel great to see a woman replace the smug scowl of Andrew Jackson. As MTV eloquently puts it, “It’s 2015. We’re ready for some female representation on our dolla dolla bills, ya’ll.” Plus, maybe employers who pay women less than their male counterparts would think twice if they knew they had to reckon with the pious eyes of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Indeed, Women on 20s is gaining significant traction. The site has close to 50,000 visitors and counting, and the campaign has recently received supportive coverage from media outlets ranging from the New York Times to the New Yorker and NPR. In July, President Obama even remarked that he thought putting a woman on paper money is a “pretty good idea.”

Rosa Parks

Of course, in an ideal world, our money would represent all the diverse leaders of American history. We should also have faces representing a mix of races, religions, and genders. Still, Women on 20s is making a bold stride to insert at least one strong female voice into the currency conversation, and it’s important to start somewhere.

What’s next for the campaign? After primary voting ends and the finalists are announced, Women on 20s will begin the final round of voting. When those results are announced, the group will propose the new face of the $20 to President Obama. If you want to have a say, you can still vote in the Primary Round here.