“Why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?”
This is the question then 8 year old Sofia, a Massachusetts girl who was just finishing third grade at the time asked President Obama in a letter she hand-wrote to him.
President Obama would then quote Sofia’s letter and plea as he agreed with the little girl that putting some women on the U.S. currency was a “pretty good idea. In an interview with Time magazine on what catalysed her decision to write the president, Sofia articulated:
“I was studying Ann Hutchinson, who stood up for women’s rights. Almost everyone who chose a boy, on their poster they had pictures of different dollar bills or coins with their person on it. So I noticed, why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it? I just came home from school and said, ‘I need to write to the president.’
Sofia did not stop there. Her letter included a list of women she thought out to appear on a the US currency. She suggested among others Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman!
In the months since Sofia wrote to Obama, a campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has went viral.
Granted the above, the news that Harriet Tubman will be replacing Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill is significant for all sorts of reasons. It is an affirmation that change agents can be of any age. In addition, slave owner Jackson is being replaced by a former slave; Tubman, who led more than 300 slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
But even if Tubman weren’t replacing Jackson, the $20 would be the perfect bill to honor her, because the sum of $20 played a significant role in her life on two separate occasions. For one thing, $20 was the amount she earned as a monthly pension after the Civil War, for which she helped the Union as a scout and spy.
Back to Sofia, president Obama wrote back to her and noted:
“The women you listed and drew make up an impressive group. And I must say you’re pretty impressive, too. I’ll keep working to make sure you grow up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men, and I hope you’ll stay involved in issues that matter to you. If you keep focusing in school and trying to help others whenever you can, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.”