Could Donald Trump Stop Harriet Tubman From Being On The $20 Bill? It Would Be A Terrible Move
Earlier in 2016, when there was still hope and joy in our hearts, news broke that after months of effort, famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman would grace the American $20 bill. The move would make Tubman both the first woman and the first Black person to be the currency, but in the intervening weeks since Donald Trump was elected, some are worried that the president-elect, who criticized the decision, might make moves to overturn it. Those desperate for this beacon of hope in such terrible times are now begging the question: could Donald Trump stop Harriet Tubman $20s from being printed?
Unfortunately, it's not outside the sphere of the incoming president to reverse the decision to put Tubman on the $20 bill — especially given that when President Barack Obama leaves office in January, so too will Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the Obama-appointed treasury secretary who took the post in 2013. Trump tapped former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin for treasury secretary. And although Mnuchin hasn't publicly stated any opinions about the move to put Tubman on the currency, the decision to change the currency is clearly within the purview of the treasury secretary. Trump isn't likely to issue a direct order, but if he wants Tubman off the $20, there's little to suggest that Mnuchin wouldn't do it.
Concerns about Trump reversing the Tubman $20 decision weren't predicated on any post-election comments, but Trump did remark that he thought the change is "pure political correctness" and suggested that Tubman could instead be featured on another bill, such as the less-circulated $2 bill. It's no stretch to predict he might make overtures to reverse it while in office, but to date, he hasn't suggested it since his election.
The reversal wouldn't just be a major loss for women and Black people who are wildly underrepresented in American historical cannon. Some critics say that it would also be a bad PR move for Trump, whose track record with women and Black people is already fraught, especially due to the spate of women who have accused him of sexual assault. He has firmly denied each of those accusations.
Putting Tubman on the $20 is a really big deal — to have an abolitionist and Black woman who escaped slavery replace Andrew Jackson, a slaveholder who orchestrated the Trail of Tears, is both a major symbol of progress and a step towards an apology for the atrocities of slavery.