African American Harriet Tubman On $20 Bill: The Making Of An Inclusive Union


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by Emeka Chiakwelu

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.                                                                            –   Thomas Jefferson

The United States of America has been called an exceptional country not necessarily because of its wealth or democratic capitalism but for her propensity to change and adapt. It is beginning to denote that America has copyrighted the word CHANGE, for we can factually suggest that change has been coded in America’s DNA.

The genius of the framers of the US constitution and the founding fathers was to create the means and modus operandi to put America on a pathway to a perfect union. The framers being human beings may not be perfect but their desire to construct a united, prosperous and perfect union cannot be overemphasized. From the afore-mentioned words of Thomas Jefferson’s Preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence to the Bill of Rights were tools that great men and women of emancipation struggle successfully employed and utilized to give us abolition of slavery, civil right bill and woman’s suffrage.

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Harriet Tubman, a great American and abolitionist has been honored together with countless of unnamed heroes that made and continue to make America a better place for everybody. Tubman like America represents a willpower, vision, courage and fearlessness that have come to become the hallmarks of American greatness and audacity. Tubman’s face on the $20 dollar bill will sagaciously buttressed America’s commitment to her heritage of liberty, freedom and justice.

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Despite the original sin of slavery and host of others mistakes at the inception of America. The majority of the forbearers of this great representative democracy knew that slavery, woman’s suffrage and civil rights will gradually and finally come to fruition but their greatest challenges were on how to get to their destinations without wrecking the turbulent boat.

The great news about having the face of Harriett Tubman on the new $20 dollar is not necessarily about a picture of a Black woman of African descent appearing on the most important currency in the world. But for the fact that America has fully recognized that the struggle for equality is not an exclusive minority issue but a global exercise in which America is pioneering and leading.

United States of America has not yet become a perfect union but if the truth must be said, America deserves a pat on the back on how far she has come and most importantly, on how far she is willing to travel.

There is no place like America and no other place, be it in Africa, Europe or Asia has the willpower to make a change as in United States of America. Only in America that after chattel slavery and Jim Crow’s segregation that a Black man was elected the president of United States of America and now an anti-slavery icon Harriet Tubman has been bestowed with such an honour.

The lesson to be learned about this gesture is that the struggle for human right is a universal endeavor without boundary.   Just like US dollar is the acceptable and global currency of reserve and transaction, human rights must also be accorded same perspective and reality.

Emeka  Chiakwelu is principal policy strategist at Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) a foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. His articles have been published in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many leading news platforms. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.    


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