A Woman on the $10 Bill: Why Not Helen Keller?

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August 19, 2015; AL.com

On June 17, 2015, Jacob Lew, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, made a historic announcement: The new $10 bill will feature the image of a woman. Scheduled for release in 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, the new bill is heralded by some women as a giant symbolic step toward equality.

According to the Department of the Treasury, the theme for the next generation of currency designs is “democracy,” and therefore the choice for the face of the new $10 bill should be a champion of freedom and all of America’s founding principles including advocacy, equality, and inclusion. (Swept under the rug was the movement this past spring to put a woman on the $20 bill, kicking off former president and notorious Native-hater Andrew Jackson.)

From the FAQ page on the Department of the Treasury’s website:

After considering the public’s input on the qualities that best represent our value of democracy, the Secretary will announce some of the changes to the $10 note, including the selection for the new portrait. However, the design process is very involved and detailed, and the final redesigned note will not be complete for several years.

Across the U.S., people have shared their opinions as to which woman from American history should grace the new bill. Some names that have been mentioned include Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Betsy Ross, and Martha Washington.

The Helen Keller Foundation, naturally, has put forward their eponymous choice as the best one. Born in Alabama in 1880, Helen Keller lost her vision and hearing due to a childhood illness. But Anne Sullivan, a talented teacher, moved from Boston to Alabama and taught Helen to communicate through a technique of finger-spelling, which was unusual at the time.

Helen Keller became an author and a spokesperson for many who had no voice or could not use it. She advocated for people with disabilities, women, and immigrants. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and TIME named her as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century.

Helen Keller would be a more fitting choice than most for the new $10 bill because it will be the first with a tactile feature for people who are visually impaired.

The Helen Keller Foundation has prepared a video with ten reasons why Helen Keller is the best choice for the new $10 bill. Watch it here:

More information about Helen Keller can be found on the Facebook page presented by the American Foundation for the Blind, where she worked for 40 years.

As part of Treasury’s outreach, it has set up a website and invited participation with the use of a new hashtag: #TheNew10. Visit the site to learn how you can suggest a name or vote for your choice for the new $10 bill.

Who do you think should be on the new $10 bill?— Debbie Laskey