ARTIST: Conrad Stojak
Whether we may believe it or not, money is art. Over the recent years, the Treasury & Engraving Department has released a multitude of new bill designs for the United States currency coupled with 50 different types of quarters, one for each state. They have spent untold millions on minting and printing. Unfortunately, not one coin or bill has a depiction of an African-American of distinction. This troubles me greatly since we’ve broken the racial boundaries of the presidency and after the current census, we have learned that the American ethnic landscape has radically changed. From Americans that I have spoken with at length, from all races and backgrounds, there is a belief that money reflects a society. Individuals see themselves in many things. Inside a particular house or car, or maybe a job. There is little exclusion these days, motivated mostly by capitalism, companies and agencies make it a point to include everyone. Any dollar earned by anyone allows them the right to buy whatever their heart desires. But when some people see money, they don’t see themselves. Their times, events and lives are not reflected back. Currency seems to be the last segregated border.
My proposal is simple but radical. I’d like to change the image of Alexander Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill to that of a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have chosen the ten dollar bill mostly because Hamilton was not a United States president (neither was Benjamin Franklin) and should have little impact upon the concept of “Founding Fathers” since most of the public believes that term is applied to early presidents. However, that in itself is a misnomer since Abraham Lincoln was a born nearly a century after George Washington and was not around during the founding of the United States. The ten-dollar bill is also a low circulated bill as opposed to five and twenty-dollar bills so I consider it a good starting point before other denominations are changed and it flanks nicely with the Lincoln five. On the rear of the “MLK” ten would be a picture of a protest during the civil rights movement led by King or the march on Washington.
The honor of being put on currency seems to be based on people who made great social impacts on this country. As we change as a nation, we are realizing that many of those who do help our world come from varied backgrounds. The time has come to break down our final barrier of what this country was to what our country is becoming… a bastion where all people from all walks of life contribute to our overall greatness. I think it’s well worth the money.