Fifth-grader's letter prompts decision on money In this Wednesday, April 20, 2016, photo, Sofia, 11, stands with a U.S. $20 bill outside of her home in Cambridge, Mass. Sofia, who wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to put a woman on U.S. paper currency has gotten her wish. (Ryan Mcbride/Boston Herald via AP/AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Fifth-grader's letter prompts decision on money
Lexile

In a few years Sofia will get her first chance to spend a $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman. When that happens the Massachusetts fifth-grader can take some extra pride. She will know the role she played in getting the first woman featured on U.S. paper currency in more than a century.
 
Sofia wrote a letter to President Barack Obama. She noticed the lack of women on U.S. currency. She realized it while working on a class project.
 
"It makes things feel fair," Sofia said.
 
April 20 was her 11th birthday. She received phone calls from U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and other officials. They informed her of the decision to put Tubman, an African-American abolitionist, on the front of the $20 bill. Other women will be featured on bills, too.
 
"If women do important things just like men, women should be on our currency, too. And once that happens it's going to be amazing," Sofia said. She was interviewed by The Associated Press. Sofia lives in Cambridge.
 
Her letter to Obama in 2014 read in part: "I think there should be more women on the dollars/coins of the United States because if there were no women there wouldn't be men."
 
Sofia suggested a dozen names that could fit the bill. One name was Tubman's. Harriet Tubman was born into slavery. After escaping, she helped other slaves gain freedom through what became known as the Underground Railroad.
 
Sofia also listed civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, poet Emily Dickinson and first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.
 
Sofia did not hear back right away. But a few months later, the family heard that Obama had referenced a letter from a "Massachusetts girl" in a speech. The family wondered if it was her. It turned out that it was. Then, in February 2015, a letter arrived from the White House. President Obama thanked Sofia for writing to him "with such a good idea." The women she suggested were an impressive group, "and I must say you're pretty impressive too," the letter stated.
 
While Tubman wasn't the only famous woman Sofia offered, she is very happy with the choice. Sofia was impressed to learn that Tubman did much more than escape from slavery. Tubman risked her life to help others do the same.
 
Sofia's mom, Kim, said her daughter is concerned about the world. "But I think the part of the story I like the best is that she really is just an average, typical little girl who noticed something that was unfair in the world. And she decided to do something about it."
 
Sofia said she does not have plans for politics herself. She hopes to become a scientist. For now, she is enjoying a heartfelt wish that has come true.
 
"I was really excited and to have it happen on my birthday. It was the best birthday present ever," she said.
 
The new $20s are expected to go into circulation in 2020. Tubman's image will replace the portrait of President Andrew Jackson. His image will move to the back of the bill.
 
The last woman featured on U.S. paper money was Martha Washington. She was the wife of George Washington, the country's first president. She was on a dollar silver certificate from 1891 to 1896.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 126 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What prompted Sofia to write a letter to the president?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (29)
  • sarahj-bel
    4/28/2016 - 02:04 p.m.

    What prompted Sofia to write a letter to the president because she wanted to tell the president that he should change bills to have woman on them to.

  • jenniek-bel
    4/28/2016 - 02:04 p.m.

    She was talking about it in school and then she knew what to say so she wrote a letter.

  • cassiec-kut
    4/29/2016 - 11:03 a.m.

    if sofia waned to have this done still do the letter just go down to the white huse and have to ask the guards to let her through cause she was the one whi wrote the letter and if the president was busy then have the guards tell him/president if there were no wimen on money that is not fair that all of the men get to be on money cause we have girls that are heros to like for eample malala,rosa parks and so many more and try to inspire the president to not have all men on money girls deserve it to and wihtought wimen there would be no men

  • matthewa1-bea
    5/05/2016 - 10:46 a.m.

    Sofia write a letter to the president because she wanted to know about the 20 dollar.

  • darianv-3-bar
    5/05/2016 - 07:03 p.m.

    Sofia was prompt to write the letter because she noticed the lack of women on the u.s. currency and wanted to do something about it. "Sofia wrote a letter to President Barack Obama. She noticed the lack of women on U.S. currency." i think this is smart because more women should be on money.

  • maggieo-haw
    5/10/2016 - 08:09 a.m.

    She thought that it was unfair that ladies were not on money like men were so that is why she wrote the letter.

  • devinm-haw
    5/10/2016 - 08:09 a.m.

    Sofia got prompted to write a letter to the president because she realized in 2014 that men were the only people on money and she thought it was not fair. So she wanted to change that .

  • lauray-haw
    5/10/2016 - 08:09 a.m.

    She was concerned about the world and thought no women were on currency. So she told president Obama that without women there are no men.

  • julianm-1-haw
    5/10/2016 - 08:10 a.m.

    She wrote a letter because there wasn't enough women on dollars or coins.

  • sarahbellef-haw
    5/10/2016 - 08:12 a.m.

    Sofia wrote the letter because she saw that the currency of women is very low. I like that women are going to be featured on the bills now because that might make people that don't appriciate them as much appriciate them now.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT