By now you’ve all heard that Harriet Tubman, former slave, abolitionist, and Union spy during the Civil War, will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. The move is the first in a series of long overdue changes to the faces on American money, marking the first appearance of a woman on American paper currency since the late 1800s. While Alexander Hamilton retained his spot as the face of the $10 bill last year, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that women and civil rights leaders will be added to the back of both the $5 and $10. So who will these people be?
Not only will the individuals below be added to the back of the $10, but the Treasury building will be replaced by a depiction of a 1913 women’s suffrage march that ended at the Treasury building. This scene is fitting, given that the five women to be featured were ardent suffragists. Here they are in no particular order:
Much like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth was born into slavery under a different name and later escaped. Born Isabella Baumfree in Swartekill, New York, Truth escaped from slavery with her infant daughter in 1826 and made history in 1828 by becoming the first African-American woman to win a court case (to recover her son) against a white man. During the Civil War, Truth actively recruited African-American soldiers for the Union Army and following the war, she fought – albeit unsuccessfully – to secure land from the federal government for former slaves.
Lucretia Mott was a Quaker, women’s rights activist, and abolitionist. She is most well-known for her attendance at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London and her role in organizing the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, which brought together some of the country’s most notable women’s rights activists. Mott was also instrumental in the 1864 founding of Swarthmore College, one of the earliest co-ed colleges in the country.
Susan Brownell Anthony was another Quaker, women’s rights activist, and abolitionist who fought for social reform throughout her adult life. Beginning at age 17, Anthony was committed to the anti-slavery movement and by age 36 she was the New York State agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. Despite her record as an abolitionist, Anthony is undoubtedly more well-known for her work as a suffragist. As a single woman, Anthony was uniquely positioned to retain all of her earnings, which she funneled back into the women’s suffrage movement. Many of these earnings came from her extensive speaking tours, which totaled between 75 and 100 per year. Anthony’s accomplishments are too numerous and noteworthy to list in detail here, but it goes without saying that she earned her legacy many times over.
Another prominent women’s rights activist and suffragist, Alice Paul was responsible for organizing the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, D.C., and spent fifty years as the head of the National Women’s Party. Paul spent time in prison and carried out a hunger strike in order to protest for suffrage and equal treatment for women. One of Paul’s most notable accomplishments was her role in ensuring that women were included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a protected group.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was also an abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and a leading force among suffragists. Among her most notable accomplishments is that she was the principal author of the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, which was signed at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. Stanton also served as the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1892 – 1900. Due to her somewhat controversial views on religion and her emphasis on female employment, many traditional suffragists gravitated toward Susan B. Anthony, who became the more recognizable leader of the women’s suffrage movement.
While the individuals to be featured on the $10 were more known for their women’s rights achievements, those who will appear on the back of the $5 are more known for their work to improve civil rights for African-Americans. The Lincoln Memorial will remain as the backdrop on the bill, as it was the venue for Marian Anderson’s 1939 Easter performance after she was banned from the nearby Constitution Hall due to the venue’s segregation policy. The Memorial’s steps also served as the stage for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic 1963 “I have a dream” speech, so it makes historical and symbolic sense to keep it on the bill. Given those two major events, it stands to reason that the following people will be featured on the bill’s reverse side:
Minister, activist, and civil rights titan. Honestly, if you don’t know about MLK by now, I can’t help you.
Mentioned above, Marian Anderson was an African-American singer who performed throughout Europe and the United States many times in her career. More than just a singer, Anderson became a symbol for African-American artists across the country who sought to overcome racial injustice. Anderson was also the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. On top of her personal music career, she worked for the State Department as a delegate and goodwill ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, where she traveled around the world performing concerts. She was also an active participant in the Civil Rights movement, performing at some major marches and events.
Known by most for being FDR’s First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was also known for being outspoken on racial issues. Eleanor was responsible for coordinating Marian Anderson’s performance at the Lincoln Memorial and in many ways, was the first First Lady to use her role to shine the light on the major social issues of her time. Even in the wake of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, she stood up against anti-Japanese sentiments and warned against hysteria. Despite widespread and frequent criticism from many, she regularly stood up for minority groups throughout her career and life in politics.