Picture it: A woman’s face on the $20 bill

     (Photo illustration: Eric Walter/WHYY)

    (Photo illustration: Eric Walter/WHYY)

    There’s a plan afoot to try to get a woman’s portrait onto American paper currency, and I say it’s about time! Women on 20s, whose motto is “A Woman’s Place Is On The Money,” is currently holding an online competition (there’s a slate of serious candidates) to choose a famous American woman to replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill.

    Inspired, I asked my Facebook friends: Who would you like to see replace Andy on the twenty?

    The first response: Eleanor Roosevelt!

    Quickly followed by: Harriet Tubman, hands down.

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    Moms Mabley.
    Molly Brown. She’s unsinkable, so our currency would never crash.
    Mae West. We could change E Pluribus Unum to “Come up and see me sometime.”

    The suggestions continued, both serious and sarcastic:

    Abigail Adams
    Barbara Walters!
    Sojourner Truth
    Minnie Mouse — the quintessential American female icon
    Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul would totally rock a twenty.

    One liberal pal suggested Hillary Clinton “so she’d be able to raise even more money for her 2016 campaign!” My conservative friend Carol suggested Hillary too — “But only for a counterfeit bill, so it would be just as fake as she is.”

    I love Carol for her wit, not her politics.

    The responses continued pouring in:

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton!
    Marge Simpson — complete with blue hair
    Amelia Earhart
    Jane Addams! She was the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and she was a supporter of both civil rights and immigration reform. Progressive but non-partisan, an excellent role model in every way.

    Politicians and public figures proved to be popular choices:

    Rosa Parks
    Rachel Carson
    Shirley Chisholm
    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    Ann Richards! Smart, sassy and savvy. What’s not to love?
    Eleanor Roosevelt, a great American who cared for the downtrodden and spoke up for them and for all women.

    Pop Culture Icons were popular:

    Janis Joplin!
    Samantha from “Bewitched”
    Marilyn Monroe
    Elaine Stritch!
    Leona Helmsley. But we’d have to replace E Pluribus Unum with “Only the little people pay taxes.”
    Oprah! After all, at one time or another she’s likely to have owned that dollar bill you’re holding.

    One friend apparently couldn’t choose between a political figure and a pop-culture icon:

    I vote for either Eleanor Roosevelt or Grumpy Cat.

    And my sister’s choice?

    Shirley Temple, iconic child actress and accomplished diplomat.

    Within 24 hours, I’d received hundreds of responses. The woman who got the most votes by far? Eleanor Roosevelt. She gets my vote too.

    But my own favorite response was this:

    I vote for Maya Angelou. Especially if her wisdom could be transferred to everyone who handled the bill.

    I’d pay a lot more than $20 to see that happen.

    This essay originally appeared on Women’s Voices for Change.


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