Clarence Lusane: Twenty Dollars and Change
In Twenty Dollars and Change, author and activist Dr. Clarence Lusane 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. Lusane discusses his book with journalist Arionne Nettles. Register for the online program here.
This online program is presented in conjunction with our special exhibit Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice, on display now at the American Writers Museum.
More about Twenty Dollars and Change:
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.
Praise for Twenty Dollars and Change:
“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.
“Thoughtfully balanced and nuanced, Twenty Dollars and Change explores the ways that American hero and national icon Harriet Tubman resonates across racial, gender, and political divides. Lusane captures not only the significance of historic symbols, but how winning the fight over representation and memory advances the ongoing struggles for racial justice and democracy right now.”
—Janell Hobson, editor of Ms. Magazine’s Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Project and author of When God Lost Her Tongue: Historical Consciousness and the Black Feminist Imagination
“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, author of Calling In the Calling Out Culture
DR. CLARENCE LUSANE is an author, activist, scholar, and journalist. He is a Professor, former Chairman of Howard University’s Department of Political Science and currently the U.S. Independent Expert to the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. 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 and most recently, Twenty Dollars and Change, Lusane lives and works in the Washington, DC area.