By Megan Schuller
Eleanor Roosevelt has been announced as a finalist in the Women on 20s campaign, which aims to not only get a woman on the $20 bill, but to tell the stories of the deemed prestigious women.
The Women on 20s campaign is located in New York but has quickly become a national campaign since its launch in March, when the primary voting opened up. Over 256,000 votes were cast, bringing Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller to the current final round.
“[The campaign] is about having new values toward women who haven’t been fully valued and validated in our society. Their stories are not often told, and the representation is limited,” said Barbara Ortiz Howard, founder of Women on 20s.
Howard said there is bipartisan support by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who have introduced the bill to the Senate and encouraged the U.S. Treasury Department to pursue the change. At press date, the final round of voting had 286,000 votes cast, which meant a total of around a half a million votes cast in total throughout the total voting process. After voting ends, they will have enough votes to legally petition the president of the United States.
“We like to think of paper money as pocket monuments to great figures in history, and putting a woman on a bill we use all the time, would be an everyday reminder that women made contributions alongside men,” said Susan Ades Stone, director of Women on 20s campaign. “Our money shows what we value. We need to show the world and girls that we value women and are committed to gender equality.”
With the recent celebration of Founder’s Day and the university’s 70th anniversary, the Roosevelt community has been getting involved to push for Roosevelt.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, granddaughter of Roosevelt and Roosevelt Life Trustee member, talked about her grandmother’s nomination.
“My grandmother would be a good person to have on our paper money because she provides an example of someone who was devoted to our democracy, worked hard for other people’s welfare, loved people especially students and young folks, was a humble and careful thinker,” Roosevelt said.
Student Government Association got involved with the campaign and sparked conversations around campus about Roosevelt’s nomination.
Members of SGA made dollars with Roosevelt’s face, the Women on 20s website and SGA logo on the dollar. SGA hung the dollars up and placed them around the school. A huge dollar was blown up and placed along the bridge between the Auditorium and Wabash Buildings.
“[The dollar] speaks for itself. If people get curious, they go on the website and see what the national campaign is about,” said Rachel Pieczura, senior and SGA president. “We want to push for Eleanor, but it’s important in general for a female to be on the bill. Women have taken such a leap to get where they are at.”
SGA members hope that the use of the dollars and social media to promote the campaign throughout campus will get the students and faculty to go online and vote.
“Being a social justice school, it’s a great movement to join and it would be nice to finally see a women on one of the bills,” said Nyesha Eubanks, sophomore and SGA treasurer. “It looks like real money so it’s an eye catcher, but it’s also gives people a good perspective of what it would be like if we did get Roosevelt on the $20 bill.”
University Historian Lynn Weiner and economics professor Steve Balkin were pivotal in starting the movement at the university to get Roosevelt on the $20 bill. According the Weiner, they sent out emails throughout the school to staff, organizations and students to start awareness of the national movement. Weiner made a flier that was posted around the school with information about Roosevelt and the Women on 20s organization.
“I think people should enjoy this and learn about women who have contributed to our history, whether or not Eleanor wins,” Weiner said. “One of the ways we remember history is making symbols on statues or coins and dollar bills. The fact that there’s no women on paper money is significant, and this is a significant campaign.”
To vote for Roosevelt to become the first woman on paper money, go to womenon20s.org.
Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. EST on May 10.