Leaders of the campaign to put a woman on the U.S. $20 note have stepped up their demands on the treasury, calling for women to be featured on both the $10 and $20 notes. Last June, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that the next $10 bill would feature a woman who has played a major role in U.S. history and been a champion for democracy. Feedback from the public was so extensive, a further announcement was made in December that the announcement as to who would be honored would come later than the promised January deadline. The new $10 bill is slated to go into circulation in 2020.
The Women on 20s campaign had meanwhile been agitating for a change to the $20 note, which currently features President Andrew Jackson — in part due to his role in the slave trade and killing of Native Americans, and also because they consider the $10 note “a minor bill.” Adding to their concerns, there is talk of retaining Alexander Hamilton on the $10 note, and relegating a woman to a “cameo role” on the rear — a move supported by Hillary Clinton, among others. Barbara Ortiz Howard, founder of Women on 20s, commented to TIME that this was “akin to being on the back of the bus.”
In a letter to Lew, published Wednesday on TIME.com, Ortiz Howard and Women on 20s Executive Director Susan Ades Stone called on the Treasury Secretary to “make history with real meaningful change” or risk “another decade or more of woefully inadequate representation of women and their worth.”
“Echoing our earlier petitions, we urge you to undertake a SIMULTANEOUS redesign of the $20 bill to send Jackson packing,” they wrote.
“The decision you make will go down in history one way or another. Instead of doing the bare minimum you can for women, repeating the mistakes of men in power before you, change the course and do something bold. Place a woman prominently on the $10 AND the $20 in time for 2020. We assure you, no one will criticize you for doing more.”
Canada has also announced it will be featuring an iconic woman on its next issue of banknotes, while Australia has, in a sadly retrograde step, just removed celebrated suffragist and all-round high achieving social activist Catherine Helen Spence from its $5 bill, in a redesign described as “the most hideous banknote in history.”
Read the letter from Women on 20s to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew here.