By Helen Wang
Blog Content Contributor
During his administration, Obama has appointed the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, the first black U.S. attorney generals and the first openly transgender White House staffer. Obama and his administration have really put the promotion of women, the LGBT community, African Americans and Latinos on the map. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew now recently announced the new historically symbolic changes being made to the American currency. There are changes being made to the $5, $10 and $20 bills.
While Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln will both remain on the $10 and $5 bills, images of women will be added to the back of both. The Treasury building on the back of the $10 bill will be bumped to a depiction of the Women’s Right to Vote March in 1913, along with suffrage activists Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth.
On the back of the $5 bill, the backdrop to the Lincoln Memorial would become the backdrop for the 1939 performance there of African-American singer Marian Anderson after she was banned from singing at the segregated Constitution hall. Eleanor Roosevelt will also appear on the bill because she arranged Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial performance. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, will also be sharing space on the back of the bill.
While the changes being made to the $10 and $5 bills are on the back of the bill, the $20 bill will bump Andrew Jackson to the back of the bill and replace the front with African American abolitionist, Harriet Tubman. Although this change may seem drastic on paper (literally) as she would be the first woman to appear on paper currency since the 19th century, it’s all just aesthetics mixed with political correctness.
Andrea Gillespie, an associate professor at Emory University said, “This whole thing is symbolic politics. Putting women on currency is not going to change the gender pay gap and not going to change the fact that the pay gap is worse for women of color.”
This also wouldn’t change anything that happened in history, so why are we going out of our way to change up some pictures on American currency that won’t make any difference except for the way our bills look? Although it is a nice gesture to show society the symbolism of Americans’ changing our relationship with history, is it really necessary? Do we not have more important issues and matters at hand to deal with than changing up the aesthetics of what the piece of paper we hand to our cashiers look like?
The final designs on the bills will be unveiled on the centennial of the 19th Amendment which establishes women’s suffrage in 2020.