Harriet Tubman Showing Up on $20 Bills Thanks to New York-Based Designer

Image: Dano Wall

According to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, $20 bills featuring Harriet Tubman’s likeness won’t appear in circulation until 2028, years after Donald Trump leaves office.

In keeping with Tubman’s character, her likeness has shown up unannounced, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

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A few minutes after Mnuchin announced that Tubman’s likeness was pushed back until next decade, 33-year-old designer Dano Wall tweeted “we’ll see about that.”

Wall has created a 3-D stamp which can be used to superimpose Tubman’s portrait over Andrew Jackson’s on $20 bills.

In April, Trump described Tubman’s addition as “political correctness,” suggesting she be added to the $2 bill.

“Andrew Jackson had a great history,” Trump said of the slaveowner President who offered “ten dollars extra” to slave catchers who whipped his runaway slaves. “and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill.”

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According to the Sun-Sentinel, Wall has sold out of his first run of stamps, and is in a hurry to make more.

“My goal is to get 5,000 stamps out there,” Wall told the Sentinel. “If there are 5,000 people consistently stamping currency, we could get a significant percent of circulating $20 bills [with the Tubman] stamp, at which point it would be impossible to ignore.”

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Wall started making the stamp in 2017 after the Trump administration was noncommittal on the bill’s redesign. Since then, Wall has been stamping $20s when he can and encouraging others to do likewise.

Wall used the image of a young Tubman which was acquired by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American history and Culture in 2017. Wall had a vague idea of Tubman’s legacy before the project, but told the Sentinel “the more you learn about her, the more you are in awe of what she was able to accomplish.”

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He applied for and received a grant from the Awesome Foundation, a “global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1,000 at a time,” in 2018, and has sold more than 600 on Etsy since last October.

“Putting Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill would have constituted a monumental symbolic change, disrupting the pattern of white men who appear on our bills,” he said, “and, by putting her on the most popular note currently in circulation, indicates exactly what kind of a life we choose to celebrate; what values we, as a country, most hope to emulate. Harriet Tubman’s unparalleled grit, intelligence, and bravery over the course of her long life certainly make her worthy of such an honor.”

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Slaver Jackson was also the President who passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced 60,000 Native Americans onto the Trail of Tears.

Former White House staffer and reality TV star Omarosa Manigault Newman wrote in her book, Unhinged, that Trump said “you want me to put that face on the twenty-dollar bill?” when shown an image of Tubman.

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Wall has been careful not to violate the federal law against defacing currency.

“You can’t cover any text or numbers or anything on it to serve as an advertisement,” Wall said. “Anything outside of that—if the bill is still fit for circulation is fine. You can write on it and mark in any way.”

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Correction: 5/26/19, 12:55 p.m.: This story originally misstated the name of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and has been updated.

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Ibn Safir

Contributing Editor. When he's not pullin' up, he's usually jumpin' out. You can find him in the cut.