As a tangible symbol of a nation’s identity, banknotes are a window into history—from South Africa’s reckoning with apartheid to the challenges of building a unified country after Bosnia’s civil war.
Emblazoned with mottos, emblems, and historical imagery, money is one of the most tangible symbols of a nation’s identity. As that identity evolves, so too does the design of the country’s coins and banknotes—and the process can be fraught.
That has been the case in the United States with a plan to make abolitionist Harriet Tubman the face of the $20 bill, replacing former U.S. President Andrew Jackson. Although the U.S. Treasury had hoped to issue the design in time for the women’s suffrage centennial in 2020, the plan languished under President Donald Trump, who had criticized it as “political correctness.” Now, however, the Biden administration has announced it will move forward with the redesign.