It seemed like Black women collectively rejoiced when former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced back in 2016 that Harriet Tubman would replace former president Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
But, of course, it wouldn’t be America without some sort of disappointment and that’s what we received when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who’s part of the Trump Administration, said back in May that the design would be delayed until 2028. Womp.
Millions will learn even more about the abolitionist’s inspiring story when they trek to the theaters to see Harriet, starring ESSENCE’s latest cover star Cynthia Erivo. Her co-star Leslie Odom Jr. had a genius response when ESSENCE asked him what he thought about the administration’s delay.
“When I look at that woman, and I imagine, and read about, and really take in what she was about and what she did in her life, I can’t imagine that she cares about some ole’ American currency,” he said passionately, noting that the Obama administration “understood the power of image and understood the power of representation and how inspiring that can be.”
“I suspect the current administration knows that as well, which is why different decisions are being made,” Odom added.
Director Kasi Lemmons added that there are many “flawed White men” on American currency so why not have Tubman on the bill, especially since she’s a “great American” hero.
Harriet, also starring Janelle Monae, is in theaters now.