Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew with much fanfare made it official that famed Abolitionist icon Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the back of the $20 bill. The Tubman pick was long clamored for, long fought for, long deserved, and long overdue. That’s still the big problem. The change will remain still long overdue. It won’t happen until 2030 and that’s at the earliest.
Yet the glowing headline announcements from Lew and in much of the press gave the distinct and very misleading impression that the change will happen, well, like soon. The official timeline for the change is that the design for the bill with Tubman will be rolled out in 2020 or thereabouts. But the actual engraving and circulation will be in 2030; again at the earliest.
Aside from the fact, that with the speed and use of electronic banking today, by 2030, it’s problematic just how much paper currency will be in use anyway then. And on a social, historical, and human level, those who marched, demonstrated, protested, fought in and for, and had memories of the monumental civil rights battles of the 1960s that reestablished the revered place in the pantheon of civil rights trailblazers such as Tubman, will be long gone. They won’t see yet another dream and fruit of the civil rights era and legacy realized. A treasury department source says it will take almost a life span to make the currency change to safeguard against counterfeiting and to put in place secure technology to insure a bill is tamper proof.
That’s fair enough. But ten years after the design has been approved and unveiled seems a huge stretch given the historic game changing significance of the bill change. This is not the only unconscionable and galling delay that should stir anger. The change to replace Jackson with Tubman is an administrative decision. That is the decision was made by the Obama administration’s Treasury Secretary Lew. So the decision is not written in legal stone. Can you imagine a full throated championing of Tubman from a President Trump or Cruz’s Treasury Secretary and a Treasury Department under their thumb, or for that matter any other like future administration?
Tubman will add grace, style, and most important profound historic significance to American currency. Putting her on the $20 bill should just be done long before 2030 when this generation and future generations can really appreciate the change. Jack Lew are you listening.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is From Sanders to Trump: A Guide to the 2016 Presidential Primary Battles (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Saturdays 9:00 AM on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network