Reasons Why We Should Change Washington State’s Name To Tubman
As you've probably heard by now Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who is said to help liberate upwards of 700 slaves during the 1800's, will bump former President Andrew Jackson from the front of the new $20 bill. Some say only former presidents should grace the front of America's paper money but that ignores the fact that Benjamin Franklin, who was never a president, is on the face of the $100 bill. Tubman is an important figure in American history and deserves this sort of recognition but why stop there?
Ours is the only state in the nation named after a former American slave owner. Does being elected the 1st president, or even being conflicted about the practice of slavery whitewash this fact? If we had it to do all over again would be pick the surname of a slave owner as the name of our state or would we pick someone who dedicated their life to the cause of freedom?
Not only was Tubman instrumental in the abolitionist movement but later in her life she worked alongside Susan B. Anthony to promote the cause of women's suffrage. Harriet Tubman, as much or more than any American in history, embodied the ultimate American ideal that all should live free. Few are more deserving of an honor like having a state named after them. As the father of our nation, the leader of the resistance against the imperialist Brits and a man who talked, in a letter to Robert Morris, about he wished to "see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery" (his will also called for the freeing of the slaves he owned in life) Washington deserves a measure of reverence. While we can also allow for him being a product of his time, it's obvious he knew better but couldn't sum up the courage to act on his own convictions... perhaps because he knew it would be unpopular with those whom respected him the most and his own countrymen. He was an American hero to be sure but flawed. The distinction was that Harriet Tubman didn't have the luxury of vanity.
Obviously the state of Washington will not be renamed any time soon but as we move forward as a nation (and a state) to form a more perfect union we should strive more to honor those who truly embody the American ideal of freedom for all... especially great Americans like Harriet Tubman.