Will We Finally Get A $20 With A Woman's Face On It?

Photographed by Raven Ishak
Last summer, President Obama brought up the idea of putting women’s faces on paper currency after he received a note from a young girl asking why U.S. money mostly features men. While the talking point galvanized audiences in the moment, it hasn’t seen much serious momentum — but, that could be changing fast. Women on 20s, an organization dedicated to swapping out Andrew Jackson’s mug for a woman who’s made major contributions to America, is calling on voters to decide which female face should grace the green.

So, why focus on the $20 bill? Well, in 2020, the 19th amendment — women’s right to vote —celebrates its 100th anniversary. Women on 20s sees the centennial as a perfect moment to elevate women to a status position that has be historically reserved for men: having their portraits on paper money. While Susan B. Anthony made an appearance on the briefly-minted dollar coin, it was — both figuratively and literally — just a token. “We need more than that for women,” the organization’s executive director Susan Ades Stone told us. “And, if we say we value women, then we need to show it.”

It’s been a long time since the $20 got a facelift: Andrew Jackson has been printed on it since replacing Grover Cleveland in 1928 — and his big contribution to history was the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to thousands of displaced and dead Native peoples. It's the type of historical episode we should be forgetting rather than commemorating. 

Women on 20s presents a range of strong, empowering female figures deserving of representation on printed currency, including Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, and Margaret Sanger. While we’re less enthusiastic about candidates like Betty Friedan (who referred to lesbians as the "lavender menace") and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who, for all her good work, was often guilty of outright racism), one thing is certain: Money doesn't exist in a man’s world anymore, and it shouldn’t look like it does, either.

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