Why the Harriet Tubman of 2016 Would Approve of the $20 Bill

Why the Harriet Tubman of 2016 Would Approve of the $20 Bill
Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

By Julie Burton of www.bug-bytes.net

Ask any child who Harriet Tubman is and they will have an answer: “Harriet Tubman was a worker in the Underground Railroad.”

Ask any child what the Underground Railroad is and they’ll have that answer, too: “The Underground Railroad was not a real railroad with trains. It was slaves going through hiding spots and sneaking out of their homes. Harriet Tubman helped slaves find freedom.”

This may not be every child’s answer, but it’s my child’s answer. She’s right, of course. Harriet Tubman helped free the slaves through the use of the Underground Railroad.

Harriet Tubman risked her life to help end oppression. Some have argued that Harriet Tubman would have never wanted the honor of having her face on the new $20 bill. After all, she broke the law repeatedly. Harriet Tubman was a wanted woman. She had a bounty on her head. People wanted to catch her so they could be awarded cash from authorities. Landowners, especially in the South, bartered using slaves as currency. Harriet Tubman’s view on currency was probably not a favorable one.

Would the former Union spy decline the honor of being the face of the new $20 bill? I have no clue. I cannot speak for a woman that was born 160 years before me.

We live in the year 2016. Harriet’s world and the world her face will appear on are extremely different. Her views of the government, currency, and way of life are different than ours. Good – as it should be. She played a small role in the changes you see today.

The Harriet Tubman in 1863 would be a different Harriet Tubman in 2016.

A law-breaker

You don’t make the history books if you follow the rules. And the rules in the 1860s were shameful and ugly. What laws would Harriet Tubman break today? Our country is united now, but there are still laws out there that are not justifiable. Sure, she may have a couple speeding tickets under her belt, but she would most likely be held accountable for beating the shit out of a child molester to the point of death or near death. It’s illegal but the right thing to do.

An abolitionist

Nope. That title is extinct. Slavery is illegal. Unless you put an argument up for the sake of 10-year-olds everywhere for getting out of unpaid “chores.”

A humanitarian

Go set up that Go Fund Me page, Harriet. Fight for the good. Get that money on social media. You go, girl.

A Christian

She can travel the world with missionary groups, paid for by that Go Fund Me page. Think about it: Harriet Tubman leaving to help others in unfortunate circumstances to save them, then returning home only to turn back around and do it all over again. That sounds a lot like a certain 1863 Harriet Tubman we all know and love.

A fighter for women’s suffrage

She wouldn’t need to fight for women to vote anymore. The Harriet Tubman of 2016 could vote for a woman for President, if she wanted. Maybe she would have voted for the first African American President 8 years ago. Or maybe she would put her vote in for Donald Trump. After all, she was a Republican. We don’t know, and we don’t have to know Harriet Tubman’s choice. All that matters is she can vote. But if she wants to start a fight, she can always post a political statement on Facebook and watch the comments fly.

A spy for the United States

BAD. ASS. If Harriet Tubman were alive today and her job were to spy for the United States, fighting for – oh, I don’t know – equality and freedom, she would be a hero. American flags would honor her coming back home. Men, women and children would take their hats off. She would be honored at the Super Bowl, right at the 50-yard line while Beyoncé sang the National Anthem in front of her. She would even get a military discount whenever she ate at a restaurant.

If Harriet Tubman lived in this world we live in and the new $20 bill honored her, I find it hard to believe she would deny that honor. I find it hard to believe tears wouldn’t fall from her eyes for being recognized for her work that put her life at stake. I could be wrong. Like I said, I cannot speak for a woman that was born 160 years before me.

Harriet Tubman was born and raised in a broken America. She wanted equality and freedom for herself and thousands of others. And she would do anything for that freedom. She was not paid for espionage by the Union. She was paid a small amount in pension later in her life.

And the United States is finally paying Harriet Tubman back.


About the Author

Julie Burton is a mom, wife, writer, whiskey drinker, K-State lover and bacon hater. Julie’s blog has been called funny, light-hearted, and real. Follow her life at www.bug-bytes.net. You can also find Julie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And yes, she really does hate bacon, please don’t drop her as a friend. Julie is a contributing writer for Simply KC magazine. Her work has won WordPress’s Freshly Pressed and she is one of the Today Parents funniest parents.