Area women who nominated role models and favorite female historical figures were happy Wednesday with the choice of Harriet Tubman for the front of the to-be-redesigned $20 bill.
“I let out an audible squeal of delight when I heard that this morning,” said Sidny Zink, a Colorado Department of Transportation commissioner. “It was because it was the $20 and not the $10 as much as who’s going to be on it. When it was going to be the $10, I thought it was a way to weasel out of this whole thing, because $20s are what come out of the money machine (ATM).”
Other women thought Tubman was a great idea for many reasons.
“I have to say, if I couldn’t have Maya Angelou, I’ll take Harriet Tubman,” Fort Lewis College President Dene Kay Thomas said. “After our long history of slavery, her work as an abolitionist and freeing slaves, nursing during the Civil War and her work on getting women the vote, she was a true humanitarian.”
Community volunteer Sheri Rochford Figgs supported Eleanor Roosevelt for the $20. She’s seeing her selection chosen in a roundabout way. Roosevelt will appear on the back of the $5 bill with the Lincoln Memorial, along with singer Marian Anderson and Martin Luther King Jr.
“I’m glad Eleanor Roosevelt is being included somewhere, because she influenced my life so much,” Figgs said. “But Tubman is a very good choice. She’s such a reminder of where we came from, and, if you read the news, we still have a lot of lessons to learn about racism. Harriet Tubman came from nothing, and she is a great example of how to help others.”
For Yvonne Bilinski, director of the Native American Center at FLC, who nominated former Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller, the lack of female Native American women on the bills is sad.
“But Tubman is a woman of color at least,” she said. “I saw someone grumbling on Facebook about ‘Why Harriet Tubman?’ and I thought, ‘Why not Harriet Tubman?’ She was really one of the first women doing something active, helping slaves escape, and at a tremendous risk of her life.”
Seeing a woman on the $20 bill is the ultimate success for Rochester Hotel/Leland House owner Diane Wildfang.
“We protested our little hearts out about this,” she said. “It’s about time we see some result for our efforts.”