By ELISE RIO
When we were young, our first exposure to the famous heroic figures of American history was probably on dollar bills. Whenever our parents gave us bills and coins to buy something, we saw familiar faces over and over again, and we knew them even before learning anything about American history in school. On the dollar, our parents explained, is George Washington, our country’s first president, and on the penny, Abraham Lincoln, the one who ended the Civil War. When we became older, we hoped for $100 Benjamin Franklin bills for our birthdays and received $20 Jackson bill to buy our lunch.
However, we have never questioned why there are no women on any of these bills. Granted, all these men, faces of our money, have all contributed to our country in different ways, but that does not mean that women have not had a significant impact on our country. Women have fought for education, for social reforms and for abolition and they deserve to be represented as heroic role models on the faces of our money.
Recently, the Women on 20s movement has called to replace the face of Andrew Jackson on the $20 with an influential American woman who has made a significant positive impact on our society. The website not only provides a lot of information on the campaign but also features a video of young children looking for a women’s face in a jar of dollar bills. The kids are confused because none of the bills have any women on them. Although their innocence and speech seems slightly staged, they nevertheless carry the powerful message that children really are not seeing female role models on our money, which could make them think that women are not fit as men for politics.
Many have asked, “Why replace Jackson?” Well, many celebrate Andrew Jackson for his military skills and his support of the common man, but flaws also pervade his presidency. First of all, Jackson is very famous for issuing the Indian Removal Act, which drove thousands of Indians from their homes to lands further west. The Act spurred what is now commonly referred to as the “Trail of Tears,” which refers to the Native Americans’ journey from the East Coast of the United States to reservations in the west where many died of starvation and disease – not something that should be honored on our nation’s currency. Jackson was also a strong opponent of the central banking system and favored actual silver and gold coins over paper money, making him an ironic choice for the face of our current bills.
The mission of Women on the 20s is to generate overwhelming support for replacing Andrew Jackson so that a woman can appear on our twenty dollar bills in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the amendment giving women the right to vote. Through the website, anyone can vote for his or her top three choices of women that they would like to see become the new face of the twenty dollar bill. Some of the 15 candidates include Betty Friedan, Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt. These women have been writers, pioneers for women in government, abolitionists, and social activists and have all left remarkable marks on our history. They deserve to have their legacies remembered on our nation’s currency.