Will Harriet Tubman Appear On The $20 Bill?

Harriet Tubman — abolitionist, suffragist, and former slave — is one of the most influential political activists in American history. In recent years, advocates have proposed commemorating her many achievements by putting her face on the $20 bill, which is coming due for a redesign.

Tubman has had her name in the running for the bill's new design since 2016, when the Obama administration first put forth the idea of replacing former president Andrew Jackson, whose face currently graces the $20 bill. Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew initially proposed replacing Jackson, a slave owner, with the famed abolitionist, according to CNN. Under Lew's plan, the updated $20 bill was scheduled to be unveiled in 2020, aligning with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which established women's suffrage.

It doesn't seem likely that this currency change will happen this year, however — or anytime in the near future. In fact, the earliest the new $20 bill would be released is in 2030, according to statements made by current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: "This is something that is in the distant future ... It's going to be a Treasury secretary's decision in the future," per The New York Times.

Harriet Tubman won't appear on the $20 bill until at least 2030

While this delay has been understandably upsetting for many, the current administration has insisted the slowdown came about, not because of political reasons, but as a result of security concerns. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing spokesperson Lydia Washington, "the primary reason for currency redesign is security against counterfeiting, not aesthetics." CNN reported that because the $20 bill is what's most commonly dispensed by ATMs, the currency requires heavier security measures to prevent counterfeiting. These security features take a longer time to implement, which can lead to delays in the redesign of the new bills.

While it seems like it will be at least another decade until the visage of Harriet Tubman can appear on U.S. currency, that doesn't mean it is off the table entirely. It is possible the next administration will continue to move forward with the redesign, creating a memorial Tubman's notable life by including her among the other influential members of American history whose faces currently adorn our money.