Harriet Tubman debit card had nothing to do with Wakanda

Harriet Tubman debit card had nothing to do with Wakanda

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Harriet Tubman is having a moment.

Nearly 107 years after her death, the legendary abolitionist seems to be everywhere, from her Oscar-nominated biopic to a recently released debit card that bears her image. 

Tubman’s visibility partly reflects a broader trend in which black figures, stories and music are at the forefront of popular culture, experts say.

But her popularity may also reflect the intersection of other forces, including the rise of the #MeToo movement, and the desire to spotlight an inspirational figure at a time the country is riven with political and racial tensions.  

“I definitely think she’s the right character for the right moment,” says Jason Cieslak, president, Pacific Rim, at the global brand strategy firm Siegel+Gale. “It’s not just that she’s an amazing historical figure but … right now we’re looking for opportunities to celebrate powerful women, and she’s a wonderful example of that.”

Harriet Tubman is featured on a OneUnited bank debit card.

Tubman might also be particularly resonant at a time when hate crimes are increasing and racial divisions are stark, he says.

“There’s been this awful rise of rhetoric … over the last few years that further divides this country,” he said. The media, Hollywood and some brands may be “looking for a righteous and authentic counter to that.”

Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill put on hold   

Tubman’s legacy drew renewed attention in 2016 when the Obama administration said her face would be placed on the $20 bill and then again in 2019 when Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the new design would take several years longer than planned because he had to focus instead on “security features.” 



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By Javier Manning

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