Portraits are forms of art used to archive the image of someone significant. For centuries, they have depicted the semblance of power, beauty, wealth, respect and for this very reason, they have seeped into the most priced commodity, the currency. Since the very beginning of the unity of the United States, the founding forefathers felt that it was inappropriate to have a portrait of a living person on the currency. George Washington had declined when the country wanted his portrait on the first U.S. silver dollar, this started the long and still unbroken tradition to feature a portrait of a departed personality. The tradition is now a federal law.
Just so that you know, one does not have to be a US president to be on the face of the US Dollar. The faces of Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin appear on $10 and $100 bills, neither had been elected president, however there are a few more but not many representing the African American community who have been an integral part of American history and society. America does represent its people; however, the wave of protests inspired by equality for their citizen #blacklivesmatter in the US and around the world right now has America assessing how they should respond.
As portraits used on dollars are also a mark of respect n honor, one must wonder how many of such slavery heroes were honored on the US bills. Don’t be surprised former President Andrew Jackson a slave owner was replaced by Anti-slavery crusader Harriet Tubman on the 20$ bill. She became the first African-American face on the U.S. dollar bill and the first woman to appear on bills in more than a century. Tubman has a redefining history, she was born into slavery in the early 1820’s and relegated as property, and she defied the commodification of herself and liberated hundreds of other slaves from the slavery.
Following a 10-month process of soughing input from the public, the Tubman design was announced in 2016 by former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to be in circulation in 2020. While it does emerge as an act of revolutionary change, however the needless foot-dragging on such a significant decision says a different story. If we evaluate some of the argument on her appearance on social media about “not being attractive enough”, or “not smiling enough”.
The virus of blatant insensitivity to acknowledge is exceedingly dreadful than the current pandemic.
Such arguments and decisions astound many and make you evaluate the significance of the portrait on a currency and the value it represents, at a time when the people are redrawing what United States of America represents.