Change starts with our bills.
A feminist group wants to remove the image of Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill and replace it with a picture of one of the many illustrious women from American history.
U.S. banknotes have not changed much since the Great Depression. They feature white men — predominantly but not exclusively presidents — who played a pivotal role in the founding or shaping of our nation.
The nonprofit Women On 20s thinks the centennial of women’s suffrage, 2020, would be the perfect opportunity to add women, such as civil rights activist Rosa Parks or former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, to the pantheon of American heroes on our currency.
“Many women contribute to our society, philosophy and culture,” group founder Barbara Ortiz Howard said in an interview with Yahoo News. “It’s an opportunity to have a very rich history lesson for everyone.”
Plenty of women, the group argues, deserve to be immortalized on our money more than our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, whose Indian Removal Act of 1830 resulted in the deaths of thousands of Native Americans on the Trail of Tears.
Furthermore, Jackson opposed central banking and paper currency in general, preferring to stick with gold and silver, which makes his spot on the $20 bill somewhat ironic.
Howard started by asking friends informally who would qualify as a good replacement – and the list grew quickly.
Last month, Women On 20s introduced 15 female candidates to replace the 19th-century statesman: Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Voting began on March 1 to coincide with Women’s History Month.
After garnering at least 100,000 votes, the nonprofit intends to introduce its proposal to the White House in hopes that President Obama will take executive action.
“I think that change is difficult to come by,” Howard said. “The present occupants on our currency have been there since 1928 and 1929, when money was standardized. Periodically, the currency is updated for security reasons, but there have been no changes since that time.”
Only two women have been celebrated on U.S. currency to date.
Women's suffrage campaigner Susan B. Anthony was featured on a dollar coin that was “wildly unpopular” when it was first minted and is no longer in production.
Sacagawea, the Lemhi Shoshone woman who guided Lewis and Clark on their expedition westward, is featured on a gold dollar coin that has been minted every year since 2000.
An 1862 Act of Congress gives the Secretary of the Treasury responsibility for the selection of the people whose images appear on U.S. banknotes.
"That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and is hereby authorized, in case he shall think it expedient to procure said notes, or any part thereof, to be engraved, printed, and executed, in such form as he shall prescribe," the act reads in part.
In 1929, the Secretary of the Treasury appointed a special committee to determine the design of new, smaller banknotes.
The group determined that portraits of renowned U.S. presidents would be most appropriate because of their "more permanent familiarity in the minds of the public than any others."
However, this decision was loosened a bit to include three well-known statesmen: first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Civil War-era Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.
The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing did not return Yahoo News' request for comment.