Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew announced by 2020 the $10 bill in circulation will feature a female icon of American history.
The bill will also display a slightly smaller version of its inhabitant, Alexander Hamilton — that’s right, America still isn’t ready to let a lady be on a bill all by her lonesome. That said, it’s odd to be giving Alexander less attention when he was vital to the creation of the American ?Treasury.
It’s even more odd when the initial campaign insisting a female figure bill be printed was targeting the $20 bill and Andrew Jackson, our former president infamous for genocidal inclinations toward our Native American population and who actually tenaciously opposed printed money.
But we’re going to focus on the positives and possibilities. The historic woman is yet to be selected, so we have a few names to consider.
In my sophomore year of high school, a musty old paperback novel took me on a journey forever changing my understanding of 20th century America.
Toni Morrison’s 1977 novel “Song of Solomon” feels just as raw and pertinent today as it did nearly four decades ago. By giving an intimate voice to the complicated life of Milkman, an African-American male living in the middle of the century, Morrison used the novel as a vehicle for change within the hearts and minds of generations of readers; in 1993, she was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature for the novel.
While “Song of Solomon” is one of Morrison’s most prominent works, several other masterpieces have made her one of the most celebrated and influential writers in American history. A Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award winner, she was also honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Morrison is a timeless provocateur and one of the most phenomenal female leaders our country has ever witnessed.
Sandra Day O’Connor
If you want a woman to put on American currency, consider Sandra Day O’Connor.
She was the first female Supreme Court justice, and considering this is the highest possible position in the judicial branch of our government, you’d think her name would be floated about more. Of course, she’s not without her controversies.
Although she was appointed by Ronald Reagan and expected to be mostly conservative, she ended up a crucial swing vote in the later decades of her career and often sided with the liberal side of the court in cases involving abortion rights. O’Connor was a federalist and tried to limit the influence each of her rulings would have on subsequent decisions
All of this justifies the considerable legacy she has left on the judiciary and the lives of ordinary citizens. If you want to admire a pioneering woman known for her inviolable sense of justice and ambition, look no further than O’Connor.
Sacagawea, a Lemhi Shoshone woman who acted as a guide and interpreter during the Lewis and Clark expedition, made progress for this country by assisting in its exploration of the Western Frontier. Recognition for her contribution should appeal to the masses, and printing her mug on the $10 bill is the perfect way to do so.
Not only did she risk her life in her travels, she also left her home and tribe to assist in the documented discovery of the country we know today.
Though many would argue Sacagawea is already present on the coin dollar, several of the presidents on our bills are repeated on our coins (Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson), and the coin dollar is rarely, if ever, used.
With Sacagawea on the $10 bill, we would not only be honoring a woman, but a Native American woman. And aren’t Native American women the founding mothers, daughters, sisters and wives of this land we call home? Homage to these women, and to Sacagawea in particular for her significance, has long been overdue, and it’s time we rectify that.
Note: There is controversy surrounding her name. Some people spell it Sacagawea, Sacajawea or even Sakakawea. I simply used Sacagawea because it’s the most widely used version.
Oprah Gail Winfrey is the OGW (Original Gangster Woman) for the $10 bill. 11.34 percent of Americans follow her on Twitter; if that’s not loyalty, then I don’t know what is.
I’m aware that the United States Mint won’t put anyone who’s living on the bills, and I’m in no way acting as a harbinger for Ms. Winfrey’s demise; I’m just saying it’s time for some change. And by change, I’m not talking about dimes and quarters, I’m talking about Oprah. She takes her benevolence very seriously along with her own TV channel — you don’t see Sacagawea boasting her own show.
There’s also a slight chance each bill will come with a free vacation, fingers crossed.