Harriet Tubman’s grandniece thinks redesigned $20 bill is delayed ‘because she was a black woman’

Local News

Harriet Tubman’s great-great-grandniece, Pauline Copes Johnson, worries she won’t see her Aunt Harriet’s face on the $20 bill in her lifetime.

Johnson said, “Everybody spends or uses $20 bills. When they cash their checks, that’s what they’re going to get the most of. Everybody will have it in their hand.”

Johnson hopes she can get the very first copy from the mint, but she’s going to have to wait longer.

When President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, made the decision to replace President Andrew Jackson’s face with Harriet Tubman’s, it was known that the process would be up to his successor. 

Last week, that successor, President Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, told a congressional committee that the $20 bill redesign is delayed, until at least 2026.

When asked by Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley if he supports Tubman being on the bill, Secretary Mnuchin responded, “I’ve made no decision that relates to that, and that decision won’t be made until 2026.”

Mnuchin then said it’s his decision, but his current focus is on security features of the U.S. currency.

Johnson said, “This new treasurer, I don’t know how to pronounce his name. He takes his orders from President Trump. Neither one of them want to see Aunt Harriet on the $20 bill. I think because she was a woman, and because she was a black woman, and they think it’s terrible to have a black woman on the currency.”

When asked what she would say to President Trump if she could speak with him, Johnson says, “I don’t think I’d want to have a talk with him, ’cause I’m liable to say something I’m not supposed to say.”

Johnson was humored by how supports of Tubman are rebelling against the U.S. Treasury, by buying stamps online that cover Johnson’s face with Tubman’s. When Mnuchin made the announcement last week, sales of the stamp skyrocketed to a sell-out.

Republican Congressman John Katko has opposed President Trump’s delay of the new currency and sponsored a bill in the House of Representatives that would force the Treasury to go ahead with the plan.

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