I would have voted for Eleanor Roosevelt to replace President Andrew Jackson on the face of the American twenty-dollar bill. But Harriet Tubman is a pretty good choice.
Eleanor is one of my heroes. Not only because she cajoled the UN into adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also because of her lifelong concern for society’s underdogs.
Officials said there was an on-line poll to select Andrew Jackson’s replacement and Eleanor came in second. Harriet Tubman won.
I must admit I didn’t know much about Harriet Tubman. I grew up in Jamaica, after all, and – at that time, anyway – Jamaican schoolchildren don’t learn much American history.
I knew she was an escaped slave who helped rescue scores of other slaves through the Underground Railroad. But I wasn’t aware of her continuing fight for women’s rights after slavery was abolished. Or of her service as a military nurse – and spy – during the American Civil War.
Of course bigots are railing against her choice. They are outraged by the selection of an African American as the first woman to be featured on American currency. Donald Trump sneered that it was political correctness run amok, and some objectors took to Twitter to express their displeasure.
Removing a white from $20 bill to replace with a mudskin is an act of #WarOnWhites. Wake up, white man.
Even some black Americans joined the anti-Tubman chorus. Ben Carson, for instance, suggested it would be more appropriate to put her portrait on a $2 bill.
But there was far more positive reaction as America welcomed another milestone in the evolution of an increasingly diverse and enlightened society.