Posts Tagged ‘sojourner truth’

The New 10: Which Woman’s Face Will Grace the New Bill?

In June of last year, the Obama administration announced that, in the year 2020, a woman will grace the front of the $10 bill. The redesign and unveiling will be in celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States.

The question is…who will it be?

There are two requirements: the woman must be deceased, and she must exemplify the theme of “Democracy.”

There are many women who have deeply impacted this country and its history, and who fill the two above criteria. Selecting one woman to fill this extraordinarily symbolic role will be challenging. Which historic achievement will be highlighted, and which female innovator will be featured?

The Treasury Department has asked for help in the selection process. It launched a website, https://www.thenew10.treasury.gov/, that provides details of “the new 10” and has created a public discussion via the use of social media and #TheNew10 hashtag.

So let’s discuss. It is Women’s History Month, after all.

Susan B. Anthony (standing) consults with her long-time collaborator, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Though the picture is obviously posed, it captures something of their mutual trust and respect over many decades.

Susan B. Anthony (standing) consults with her long-time collaborator, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. [Library of Congress, Public Domain], via SIRS Knowledge Source

Perhaps, because the new $10 bill will be revealed on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, a woman who was integral to women’s suffrage will be chosen. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were both prominent leaders of the movement, cofounding the National Woman Suffrage Organization and working tirelessly for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. They contributed to the writing of The History of Woman Suffrage and were both passionate abolitionists. Anthony, however, has already appeared on U.S. currency: her portrait was featured on the $1 coin from 1979 to 1981.

Sacajawea already appears on the dollar coin (which is no longer in general circulation), but she deserves consideration. A Shoshone Native American, Sacajawea served as the interpreter for Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their 8,000-mile journey into the American West and to the Pacific Ocean. She was integral to their travels, and thus to the information and research that the explorers shared with the world.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman [Library of Congress, Public Domain], via SIRS Discoverer

The era of slavery is a dark one in American history but gave rise to extraordinarily strong and brave African American men and women who helped transform this country. Harriet Tubman, known as “the Moses of her people,” escaped slavery and was determined to help others do the same. She travelled the Underground Railroad many times after her escape, leading more than 300 slaves to freedom. Sojourner Truth also escaped slavery. She became a strident abolitionist and was the first female African American orator to protest slavery. Her speeches inspired people throughout the Northern and Midwestern states.

What about First Ladies? Some have affected noble and lasting changes, both politically and socially. Two come to mind: Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt. Adams was the nation’s second First Lady, wife of President John Adams. She never held political office, but took an active role in politics and national matters (including the Revolutionary War), was an early supporter of women’s rights, and had great influence on her husband. Her letters to him are full of her insightful observations. More than a century later, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt exerted tremendous political and cultural influence in her position as First Lady. She was an extremely vocal advocate for social causes, spreading her message by holding press conferences, hosting a radio show, and writing a daily newspaper column. Known as an activist for the rights of women, African Americans, and immigrants, she influenced her husband to embrace the civil rights agenda. Her humanitarian career continued after she left the White House: she served as a U.N. delegate for seven years and headed the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King

Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) [USIA/National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306, Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century gave rise to many female activists. One, in particular, changed the national conversation about civil rights by taking a stand and sitting on a bus. Rosa Parks made a transformative decision on December 1, 1955. She violated Alabama’s bus segregation laws and refused to give her seat to a white man and was arrested. Considered the mother of the Civil Rights Movement, her act of courage inspired the Montgomery bus boycott and roused activists to nonviolent action across the country.

What about Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut in space? Or Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator who successfully completed a transatlantic flight? Or Margaret Sanger, who crusaded for women’s reproductive rights? Or Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross?

So whose face will grace the new 10? Do you have an opinion? If so, make your voice heard–whether it be to the Treasury Department, in the classroom, in the lunchroom, or around the dinner table. Each inspirational woman mentioned above, and all who will be considered for this tribute of currency portraiture, had strong voices and opinions that changed the world.

Learn more about these women, and find out details of the new 10, on SIRS Knowledge Source and SIRS Discoverer. While you’re there, check out the March SKS Spotlight of the Month on Women’s History Month.

Remembering Those Who Dedicated Their Lives to Women’s Rights

At the core of any social movement are those who envision it, persuade others to join it, and propel it into social consciousness. The American women’s rights movement is no different. Many women contributed to its evolution and escalation throughout the 1800s and early 1900s. We can thank these women for its victories. We pay tribute to these women by continuing the struggle for women’s equality in the United States and around the world.

"Women Suffragists Marching, New York City, 1913" <br \> by Library of Congress, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

“Women Suffragists Marching, New York City, 1913”
by Library of Congress, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

There are many unnamed women who struggled for women’s rights in the 19th and 20th centuries. They contributed their time, efforts, and wisdom, and helped generate outcomes that we may take for granted today. We can’t know every name and honor them accordingly. But there are a significant few who are worthy of our attention, and their lives and accomplishments deserve to be celebrated in the classroom.

We all know the names and accomplishments of Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mott was a passionate abolitionist and a strident forerunner of the women’s rights movement. She helped to organize the Seneca Falls women’s rights convention of 1848, and also presided over the American Equal Rights Association. She inspired Anthony and Stanton, who, with other likeminded women, worked tirelessly for the women’s rights movement after Mott’s death in 1880. These two pioneering women cofounded the National Woman Suffrage Association and jointly published the women’s newspaper, The Revolution. They enacted changes in laws that empowered women, including one that allowed women to own property in their name. Mott, Anthony, or Stanton did not live to see the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, but these three leaders played crucial roles in its development and approval.

“Women Suffragists Picketing in Front of the White House, 1917” by Library of Congress
via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher [Public Domain]

Sojourner Truth is a well-known advocate of both African American and women’s rights. She was a passionate abolitionist before and during the Civil War, speaking when and where she could against the inhumanity of slavery. When the Civil War concluded, she dedicated her life to obtaining rights for African Americans and for women. Despite her lack of formal education, her lectures powerfully impacted listeners and galvanized the women’s rights movement.

Julia Ward Howe may be best remembered for her Civil War folk song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but she also was very active in the women’s suffrage movement, was an editor of the Commonwealth newspaper, wrote poetry, authored books, and was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She also helped to establish “Mother’s Day” in the United States in 1872.

Lucy Stone and her daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, are 19th- and 20th-century women reformers, respectively, who made unique contributions to the movement. Not only did Lucy strive for slave emancipation, but she cofounded the American Woman Suffrage Association. She and her husband, also a fervent feminist, launched the weekly newspaper Woman’s Journal in 1870. Their daughter, Alice, continued their tradition of activism for women’s rights as a writer, editor, and suffragist.

Carrie Chapman Catt is a lesser-known, but no less important, figure in the women’s right’s movement of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1920, at the time of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, she was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). One year later, she founded the National League of Women Voters, which prepared women for citizenship. Her accomplishments go beyond voting laws: she was the first woman to be a superintendent of schools and she was an avid antiwar advocate.

During the month of March, join SKS and SIRS Discoverer in honoring these and other remarkable women who made lasting contributions to women’s rights. The SKS Spotlight of the Month and the SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month feature articles, photos, and Web sites that emphasize the cultural, societal, and political influences of women today and throughout history.