News erupted in 2016 when the U.S. Treasury announced it would replace President Andrew Jackson with the image of Harriet Tubman.
The choice to replace the past president with an abolitionist like Tubman, was both celebrated and considered controversial by the public due to the weight of the decision. The leaders on our currency are the individuals our nation is choosing to memorialize, and projects the story of our country’s past to the rest of the world.
Two years later, the American public is still waiting to know what that story will look like, because the Treasury under the Trump administration can’t commit to the change of figures.
Initially former Obama-appointed Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced, the new designs were expected to be unveiled in 2020 with Tubman on front and Jackson moving to the back. The redesign of the bill is currently still in the early stages, but it is unclear if Tubman will be included in the design selected by current Treasurer Steven Mnuchin.
“People have been on the bills for a long period of time,” Mr. Mnuchin told CNBC last August, and quickly brushed the subject off. “This is something we’ll consider. Right now we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on.”
Impatient for the shift and inspired by Rosie Rios, the treasury secretary who first advocated to honor Tubman’s legacy by placing her on the bill, Google and Nexus Studios created an AR app to replace the faces of the white men on currency with those of prominent women.
“I met a group of Google women who were excited about my ongoing mission to celebrate historic American women – and the role technology could play to bring it to life,” said Rios. “They were inspired by two simple thoughts: ‘What if we didn’t have to wait to see women on U.S. currency?’ And, ‘What if anyone could learn about women who made U.S. history in a place where they’ve historically been left out?’”
The app is called Notable Women and allows users to replace the usual faces on U.S. bills with 100 different noteworthy women. The list served as potential options for the Treasury to select when updating the notes.
“Harriet Tubman was chosen from this list to be the new face of the $20 bill,” Rios said. “This was historic, but I couldn’t help but think — why did we have to choose just one?”
Now, anyone with a cell phone doesn’t have to choose just one woman. You can scan your phone over any dollar bills and it will add a woman of American history, like Amelia Earhart, Maya Angelou, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Due to visual differences in each dollar bill denomination, seven portraits needed to be made for each woman,” Nexus Studios explained. “This resulted in the creation of 700 portraits, each one individually designed and composed to resemble the texture of ink on a dollar bill.”
The app works for both iOs and Android software and is designed to be educational. Each woman in the database has a profile with more information about her legacy and achievements. The project also includes a website for teachers to download lesson plans aligned with common core.
Image Credit: Nexus Studios