Tubman on the $20 could be game-changer

Harriet Tubman — whose story began here in Dorchester County, Maryland — will be featured on the new $20 bill. We think this speaks to the power and timelessness of her legacy. People of all ages and circumstances all over the world find inspiration in this woman who not only risked her life time and again to lead others to freedom, but was also a Civil War scout, spy, and nurse; a humanitarian; and a suffragist. Not bad for a woman who was born into slavery, never had the opportunity to learn to read or write, and became disabled in an accident when she was a girl.

Since the U.S. Treasury announced April 20 that Harriet Tubman will become the new face of the $20 bill, the freedom fighter and humanitarian has gained an amazing amount of attention from around the world. Here in Dorchester, it means exciting times ahead. “In the past week, we’ve been swamped with people eager to know more about Harriet Tubman,” said Amanda Fenstermaker, director of Dorchester County Tourism. “With the $20 bill, the opening of the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center here in March 2017, and the ongoing development of the Tubman Byway, more people will be inspired by Harriet’s amazing story. It also means more visitors and more economic growth for Dorchester.”

It also means a dream fulfilled for local folks who have worked tirelessly for decades to keep Harriet Tubman’s legacy alive. A small group of dedicated volunteers began researching and sharing her story in the 1980s and went on to create the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center in downtown Cambridge, MD.

As Royce Sampson, tour director with the Harriet Tubman Museum told the Daily Times, the newly designed $20 “will really give more meaning for the story we’ve been trying to tell.”

“Without question, it makes all of us feel wonderful,” Bill Jarmon, a member of the museum, told the media. “Her story is universal. Everyone wants freedom. She fought for her freedom and fought for others to be free.”

According to the U.S. Treasury, Harriet Tubman will be featured on the front of the $20 bill while Andrew Jackson will move to the back. Harriet Tubman becomes the first woman in more than 100 years and the first African American to be featured on U.S. currency. The new design may be completed by 2020, but there’s no word yet on when the new bills would go into circulation.

In the meantime, visitors can learn more about Harriet Tubman and other freedom seekers by exploring the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a 125-mile, self-guided driving tour through Dorchester and Caroline Counties. Order a free Map & Guide and download the Audio Guide.

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