By Victoria Merlino
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced a bipartisan bill that would greenlight a statue of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the U.S. Capitol.
“Harriet Tubman dedicated her entire life to fighting for freedom and the disenfranchised,” said Maloney, who represents parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. “Her unwavering commitment to freedom and human rights in all forms makes Harriet Tubman a true American hero and her legacy deserves to be honored in the halls of the United States Capitol,” Maloney continued.
Tubman was born in slavery in Maryland in 1820 and worked as a cook, field hand and nurse, among other roles, before marrying a free black man in 1844. She escaped to Philadelphia in 1849 after hearing rumors that she was about to be sold, leaving her family — including her children — behind. She returned in 1850 to rescue her sister and children.
This was the first of many trips that Tubman undertook to guide more than 300 slaves to the Northern United States and Canada, risking her life and becoming the most famous conductor in the Underground Railroad. At one point, the bounty from slaveholders for Tubman’s capture was $40,000 — over $1 million in today’s money.
A statue in D.C. would provide some comfort to Americans who had hoped to see Tubman’s likeness on U.S. currency.
The Obama administration proposed replacing slave-holding President Andrew Jackson with Tubman on the $20 bill, but the redesign process has faced major delays, since President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took office. The Treasury Department announced in May that they would not reveal the design of the new bill until 2028.
On June 27, a day before Maloney’s bill was introduced, Democrats rallied on the steps of the Treasury Department to speed up the process of getting Tubman on the $20 bill, according to ABC News.