The US Treasury department is reviving plans to replace former president Andrew Jackson on the $20 note with the image of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, after Donald Trump put the brakes on the idea.
The move underscores the cultural shift that has accompanied the change of administration in Washington this month, with Joe Biden moving to honour a symbol of the fight against slavery.
Tubman is best known for carrying out a series of intrepid missions to free about 70 people by making use of the so-called Underground Railroad to help slaves escape. She would be the first African-American featured on US currency if the plan is implemented.
“It’s important that our notes — our money . . . reflect the history and diversity of our country and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the $20 note would certainly reflect that,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters in a briefing on Monday. “So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”
Under Treasury secretary Jack Lew, Barack Obama’s administration had announced plans to place Tubman on the $20 note. The effort was derided by Mr Trump during the 2016 campaign as “pure political correctness”. His Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, subsequently put the plans on hold.
Mr Trump is a longtime admirer of Jackson and had a portrait of the seventh US president in the Oval Office, which has since been removed by Mr Biden.
The speed at which the Biden administration confirmed that it wanted to press ahead with plans to place Tubman on the $20 bill highlights the importance of racial justice issues to the new administration.
Last week Mr Biden signed one of his first executive orders on racial equality, including the revoking of the “1776 commission” set up last year by Mr Trump to offer a “patriotic education” to Americans and stamp out efforts to highlight the history of slavery.
The White House’s announcement on the plans for the $20 bill came as Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, moved closer to being confirmed by the US Senate to serve as the next US Treasury secretary under Mr Biden.
Ms Yellen, 74, was expected to receive bipartisan approval in the Senate. She would be the first woman to hold the job.