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The Root 100—A Celebration of Black Excellence

Jay Smooth: The Problem with Honoring Harriet Tubman on the $20

In this installment of The Illipsis, Jay Smooth takes a hard look at the push to honor women’s contributions to society by putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. (Suck it Andrew Jackson!) While well-intentioned, our nation’s complicated history with slavery and the devaluation or black bodies taints the tribute. “What we are doing right now is honoring the work Harriet Tubman did to free us from slavery by putting her face on the reason we were in slavery,” he says, while raising a $20 bill to the camera. “The dollar is history’s measure of the distance between power and virtue, how far we will travel from our humanity in pursuit of this thing.”

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