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The U.S. Mint releases new commemorative coins honoring Harriet Tubman

The U.S. Mint has released the 2024 Harriet Tubman Silver Dollar as part of the Harriet Tubman Commemorative Coin Program. The coins include $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins and half-dollar coins honoring the bicentennial of her birth.
U.S. Mint
The U.S. Mint has released the 2024 Harriet Tubman Silver Dollar as part of the Harriet Tubman Commemorative Coin Program. The coins include $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins and half-dollar coins honoring the bicentennial of her birth.

Three commemorative coins featuring famed abolitionist and human rights activist Harriet Tubman have now been released to the public, the U.S. Mint said.

The coins, which were released Thursday as part of the Harriet Tubman Commemorative Coin Program, include $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins and half-dollar coins that honor the bicentennial of her birth.

The designs featured on the coins follow the three periods of Tubman's life and her work as an abolitionist and social activist.

"Every coin produced by the United States Mint helps to tell a story that teaches us about America's history or connects us to a special memory," U.S. Mint Director Ventris Gibson said in a statement.

Gibson signed 250 Certificates of Authenticity for the 2024 Harriet Tubman Three-Coin Proof Set, which will be randomly inserted into unmarked sets, the U.S. Mint said.

"We hope this program will honor the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman and inspire others to learn more about this amazing woman," Gibson said.

Thesilver dollar design portrays Tubman's time as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. The half-dollar design showcases Tubman holding a spyglass in front of a row of Civil War-era tents, symbolizing her work as a scout and spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.

The $5 gold coin design represents Tubman's life after the Civil War, as she is shown "gazing confidently into the distance and towards the future," the U.S. Mint said in its description.

The release of Tubman's commemorative coin comes on the heels of continuous efforts by some lawmakers to replace President Andrew Jackson with the abolitionist on the $20 bill, afterprevious attempts to do so failed.

Last June, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, introduced the "Woman on the Twenty Act of 2023" bill, which would require all U.S. $20 bills printed after December 31, 2026, to feature a portrait of Tubman on the front face of the bill.

The Biden administration announced in January 2021 that it would resume efforts to redesign the $20 bill to feature Tubman, saying they were "exploring ways to speed up that effort."

So far, there have been no updates from the administration on the progress of the bill's redesign.

In April 2016, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that Tubman's portrait would be on a redesigned $20 note, to be unveiled in 2020. The image of Jackson, a slaveholder, would be moved to the bill's reverse side.

However, the initiative made little progress under the Trump administration.

Born Araminta Ross, Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland around 1822. She later married John Tubman, a free Black man, around 1844 and changed her name from Araminta to Harriet. She escaped slavery in 1849 and helped many others to freedom.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.