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From Maya to Marilyn: The Women We Want on Our Bills

Tired of seeing the same old men on your tens and twenties? Roz Warren and friends have some excellent ideas for which ladies should get some face time on the U.S. currency! Read more from Roz on her website.

There’s a plan afoot to try to get a woman’s portrait onto American currency, and I say it’s about time!

Women on 20s,  whose motto is “A Woman’s Place Is On The Money,” recently held an online competition (there was a slate of serious candidates – Harriet Tubman emerged victorious!) to choose a famous American female to replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill.

Before a winner was declared, I asked my Facebook friends: Who would you like to see replace Andy on the twenty?

The first response: 

Eleanor Roosevelt!

Quickly followed by: 

Harriet Tubman, hands down.


Moms Mabley.

Molly Brown. She’s unsinkable, so our currency would never crash.

Mae West. We could change E Pluribus Unum to “Come up and see me sometime.”

The suggestions continued, both serious and sarcastic: 

Abigail Adams.

Barbara Walters!

Sojourner Truth.


Minnie Mouse—the quintessential American female icon.

Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul would totally rock a twenty.

One liberal pal suggested Hillary Clinton—“so she’d be able to raise even more money for her 2016 campaign!” My conservative friend Carol suggested Hillary too. “But only for a counterfeit bill, so it would be just as fake as she is.” (I love Carol for her wit, not her politics.)

The responses continued pouring in: 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton!

Marge Simpson—complete with blue hair.

Amelia Earhart.

Jane Addams! She was the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and she was a supporter of both civil rights and immigration reform. Progressive but non-partisan, an excellent role model in every way.

Politicians and public figures proved to be popular choices:

Rosa Parks.

Rachel Carson.

Shirley Chisholm.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ann Richards! Smart, sassy and savvy. What’s not to love?

Eleanor Roosevelt, a great American who cared for the downtrodden and spoke up for them and for all women.

Pop Culture Icons were popular:   

Janis Joplin!

Samantha from Bewitched.

Marilyn Monroe.

Elaine Stritch!

Leona Helmsley. But we’d have to replace E Pluribus Unum with  “Only the little people pay taxes.”

Oprah! After all, at one time or another she’s likely to have owned that dollar bill you’re holding.

One friend apparently couldn’t choose between a political figure and a pop-culture icon:

I vote for either Eleanor Roosevelt or Grumpy Cat.

And my sister’s choice?

Shirley Temple, iconic child actress and accomplished diplomat.

Within 24 hours, I’d received hundreds of responses. The woman who got the most votes by far? Eleanor Roosevelt. She gets my vote too.

But my own favorite response was this:

I vote for Maya Angelou. Especially if her wisdom could be transferred to everyone who handled the bill.

I’d pay a lot more than twenty dollars to see that happen.


Editor’s note: The winner in the voting sponsored by Women on 20s was Harriet Tubman.


Thanks, Nicole Hollander and Bad Girl Chats, for inspiring this piece!

Roz Warren’s new book, Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor, will be published on April 16, National Library Day. Warren’s  work appears in The New York Times and The Funny Times. Connect with her on Facebook.

A version of this story was previously published on Women’s Voices for Change

Roz Warren

Roz Warren writes for the New York Times, the Funny Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Jewish Forward and the Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. (Twice!) Her 13th humor book, ”Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection Of Library Humor," is available on Amazon.

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