As I am certain that you have heard by now, our great ancestor and unparalleled freedom fighter Harriet Tubman has been selected to be the new image on the twenty-dollar bill. Tubman’s selection makes her the first African-American to be selected by the U.S. Treasury department to ever appear on American paper currency.
Predictably, there are many who oppose Tubman’s selection for no other reason than her race; additionally, there are many within the African-American community who would have favored a figure such as Frederick Douglass, America’s foremost Abolitionist, to replace former U.S. President Andrew Jackson on the new twenty-dollar bill.
Let me first say that I have nothing against African-American luminaries such as Frederick Douglass, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, or any other person that others would like to see on American currency, however, after putting some thought into this matter, I think that Harriet Tubman is the perfect person to adorn the new currency.
Put simply, it is Harriet Tubman who best represents the sacrifices that African-Americans have made to this nation without asking for anything in return beyond their just due.
I am certain that you realize that there were several issues that drove this nation into a Civil War, the vast majority of these issues in some shape, form, or fashion dealt with the issue of slavery. Quite possibly, the biggest ‘difference-maker’ in regards to subduing slavery was Harriet Tubman.
Tubman’s status as the ‘Moses’ figure who led her people to freedom on the Underground Railroad is well known. In this role, Tubman never lost a single passenger. She was known for threatening to kill any ‘passengers’ who felt that they could not complete the journey with immediate death; according to Tubman, there was no turning back. She also stated that she could have freed twice as many enslaved Africans if they had only known that they were enslaved. There is no doubt whatsoever that Tubman was on the front-lines of the battle to free our people. In fact, most are unaware that her contributions to freeing our people extend well beyond her courageous activities on the Underground Railroad.
What is unknown to many is that in addition to freeing hundreds of enslaved Africans, Tubman also served as a spy for the Union Army that led her to conduct innumerable reconnaissance missions.
We now know that Harriet Tubman was instrumental to many of the operations that Union Generals planned as they ventured into southern areas that they were unfamiliar with. They consulted Tubman who knew many of these regions like the back of her hand; there is no doubt that both her knowledge and the information that she provided in her role as a spy who was frequently situated behind ‘enemy lines’ was irreplaceable for the Union Army. As with most military conflicts, the information Tubman provided to Union leaders helped them not only turn the tide of the war, but also emerge victorious.
As previously mentioned, I believe that Tubman is the perfect person to receive this honor because her commitment and life-experience closely follows that of African-Americans who have made incredible sacrifices for this nation yet received little in return.
After risking her life as a spy who covertly moved through enemy lines to secure information that no one else could have even hoped to retrieve for the Union Army, the U.S. Government, as it is known to do when it comes to dealing with African-Americans, turned their back on Tubman and denied that she had made any contributions to the cause to end slavery. It took Tubman thirty-years to not only receive the recognition that should have been given freely, but also to collect upon a pension that she deserved for her role in the U.S. Civil War.
This is why I believe that Tubman is the perfect representative for this honor. Her life in many ways displays the dogged strength and commitment to righteousness that our people have continually displayed throughout their trials-and-tribulations in this nation; contributions that I must add are neither honored nor acknowledged by the U.S. Government.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.