Twenty Dollars and Change: Harriet Tubman and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice and Democracy

Regular price $ 21.95

by Clarence Lusane, foreword by Kali Holloway

City Lights Books

11/22/2022, paperback

SKU: 9780872868854


Twenty Dollars and Change places Harriet Tubman's life and legacy in a long tradition of resistance, illuminating the ongoing struggle to realize a democracy in which her emancipatory vision prevails.

America is in the throes of a historic reckoning with racism, with the battle for control over official narratives at ground zero. Across the country, politicians, city councils, and school boards are engaged in a highly polarized debate about whose accomplishments should be recognized, and whose point of view should be included in the telling of America's history.

In Twenty Dollars and Change, political scientist Clarence Lusane, author of the acclaimed The Black History of the White House, writes from a basic premise: Racist historical narratives and pervasive social inequities are inextricably linked--changing one can transform the other. Taking up the debate over the future of the twenty-dollar bill, Lusane uses the question of Harriet Tubman vs. Andrew Jackson as a lens through which to view the current state of our nation's ongoing reckoning with the legacies of slavery and foundational white supremacy. He places the struggle to confront unjust social conditions in direct connection with the push to transform our public symbols, making it plain that any choice of whose life deserves to be remembered and honored is a direct reflection of whose basic rights are deemed worthy of protection, and whose are not.


"Twenty Dollars and Change offers a metaphor about two Americas: one striving to live up to its promise of justice and liberty, and the other mired in the bloody legacy of white supremacy. The historical arc Lusane provides demonstrates that the freedom struggle changes its cast of characters over time, but never forsakes its hope for liberation. A great and refreshing read." -- Loretta Ross, activist, organizer, author, and editor of several books, including Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundation, Theory, Practice, CritiqueReproductive Justice: An Introductionand Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice

"Twenty Dollars and Change travels the back alleys of fear of racist white America... Harriet Tubman's image on the money is an opportunity to establish the symbol of democracy she wanted, one where actions led by a conceived idea of being inferior or superior are crushed. Clarence Lusane has put it where the goats can get it. An extraordinary and wonderful book." -- Tina Wyatt, great-great-great grandniece of Harriet Tubman, co-founder of Harriet Tubman Day, Washington D.C.

"In this original and brilliantly conceived book, acclaimed political scientist Clarence Lusane offers an incisive analysis of how racism and inequality shaped--and continues to shape--American society." -- Keisha N. Blain, coeditor, Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 

About the Contributors:

Dr. Clarence Lusane is an author, activist, scholar, and journalist. He is a Professor and former Chairman of Howard University's Department of Political Science. Lusane earned his B.A. in Communications from Wayne State University and both his Masters and Ph.D. from Howard University in Political Science. He's been a political consultant to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and a former Commissioner for the DC Commission on African American Affairs. He frequently appears on MSNBC and C-SPAN, and was invited by the Obamas to speak at the White House. Author of many books, including The Black History of the White House, Lusane lives and works in the Washington, DC area.

Kali Holloway is a monthly columnist for both The Nation and The Daily Beast. She is the former director of the "Make it Right Project," a national initiative dedicated to taking down Confederate monuments and telling the truth about history. She is lead vocalist for the band "Easy Lover" and is currently working on her first book, The Secret Racist History of Everything.