Freedom fighter Harriet Tubman may not be the face of the new $20 bill, but thanks to a group of supporters she will be the subject of several commemorative coins, according to Spectrum News.
Woody Keown, the president of the Freedom Center, has been working on getting coins made with the activist since 2020. His original campaign was to have her replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 note, but when that was shut down and placed on a nearly 10-year delay by lawmakers, he shifted to get her representation on another form of currency.
Obama administration treasury secretary Jack Lew advocated for Tubman, the former enslaved woman who helped hundreds to freedom through the Underground Railroad, to replace Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, on the $20 bill.
However, when former president Donald Trump was campaigning, he made it one of his missions to dismantle those plans. He made the effort a symbol of “pure political correctness,” something his supporters were against.
Once he won the election, his administration’s treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin made good on his promise and put a halt on those plans, explaining it was more practical to redesign the $10 and $50 bills first to stop counterfeiters in a new security initiative.
With the dream thwarted, Keown believed a “faster” way to have her commemorated is to push getting a coin made.
The Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act was passed by lawmakers and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Aug. 3, 2022. According to Congress, the Department of the Treasury voted to mint and issue 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins, and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins in honor of the abolitionist.
The coins will be commemorative.
Keown is currently working with others to bring the coin vision to fruition. He has been part of a committee that has provided historical information about Tubman to the government to help in the design of the coins. “We want them to consider that she was a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted leader,” said Keown.
When elected officials approved the coins as collector’s items, their intention was to commemorate what would have been Tubman’s 200th birthday. Tubman was believed to be born somewhere between 1820 and 1822 in the month of March, but the exact date is unknown.
However, the coins will be released much later than the anniversary, and there is still much work to be done.
The U.S. mint will have to commission artists’ renderings because the coins have to be original pieces of art.
Keown said, “It’s gonna be all original. In fact, the process and the laws require that for a coin of this nature, it be all original, can’t even use existing art or anything.”
Sales of the coins will also be pumped back into the charitable causes, set up to preserve the legacy of her work. The law states, “all surcharges received by Treasury from the sale of such coins must be paid equally to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and The Harriet Tubman Home, Inc. in Auburn, New York, for the purpose of accomplishing and advancing their missions.”
The public will have to wait until the summer, an additional six months, to see the official designs for the coins, and until 2024 to actually purchase one. The Harriet Tubman coins will be rare, only made and sold through the U.S. Mint from Jan. 1, 2024, through Dec. 31, 2024.
As for a $20 bill that features Tubman: The Biden administration mandated six years after the coins go into circulation, Tubman will replace Jackson on the note, accelerating the Trump administration’s delay.
In the meantime, another celebration of Tubman’s life and legacy, The Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum, will include Tubman in the suffrage worker’s 203rd birthday celebration on Sunday, Feb. 12 in Massachusetts, The Berkshire Eagle reports.
Called “The Heart of Harriet,” the commemoration will explore the lives of Anthony and Tubman intertwined in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The keynote speaker will be the founding executive director of the Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey, Cindy Mullock, and the event will be free to the public and available to be watched via Zoom or Facebook Live.