This article analyzes representative texts from the public debate surrounding the Treasury Department’s decision to place Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, showing that public memories of Tubman were complicated by an intersectional understanding of her role as a black woman abolitionist. Tubman’s femininity is emphasized to the detriment of her historical significance in a way that complicates Tubman’s relationship to currency as a victim of the slave trade. Using money as a technology of memorialization invites a deeper understanding of Tubman as a black anticapitalist woman, as her placement on money is read by some as ironic. The article concludes with a discussion of the relationship between memorialization and social justice and complications to how money functions as a technology of memory.
Original Publication Information
Coker, C. R. "Harriet Tubman, Women on 20s, and Intersectionality: Public Memory and the Redesign of US Currency." 2017. Southern Communication Journal, 82(4): 239-249.
Coker, Calvin, "Harriet Tubman, Women on 20s, and Intersectionality: Public memory and the redesign of US currency" (2017). Faculty Scholarship. 770.