Cours Art et pouvoir (CE)
Exercice d'application

Compréhension écrite

Le sujet porte sur l’axe 3 du programme : Art et pouvoir.


Document A

Harriet Tubman, anti-slavery activist, to be on new US $\$$20 bill

Anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman will be the first woman to appear on a US bank note for more than a century.

Tubman, who was born a slave around 1820 and helped hundreds of others escape, will feature on the new $\$$20 bill, the US Treasury announced.

She will replace former President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner.

While Ms Tubman will feature on the front of the $\$$20 bill, President Jackson's image will move to the back.

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said that Harriet Tubman was “not just a historical figure but a role model for leadership and participation in our democracy.”

“Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embodies the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates,” he added.

Harriet Tubman is best known in the United States for her role in smuggling slaves to safety via the Underground Railroad.

But her role in the US civil war was just as remarkable.

She operated as a scout for the Union forces, often behind enemy lines, most notably guiding the dramatic armed raid at Combahee Ferry in South Carolina in which three gunboats evaded Confederate positions and liberated more than 700 slaves.

In 1863 this was an extraordinary military role for any woman, let alone for an escaped slave.

As for Andrew Jackson, his enduring numismatic role is ironic not only because the slave-trading president has been pushed to the back of the $\$$20 bill by a freed slave but also because he regarded the very existence of paper money as a “deep- seated evil.”, 21 April 2016 (adapted)


Document B

Outrage as Trump delays putting Harriet Tubman on $\$$20 bill until 2026

Donald Trump’s administration is facing criticism for delaying a move to put the anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman on the $\$$20 bill.

Barack Obama’s administration announced that the $\$$20 bill would be redesigned 5 by 2020, removing the face of Andrew Jackson, who is revered by some as the first populist president but who also owned slaves and pursued brutal efforts to drive Native Americans off their land.

But the treasury department has now postponed the final decision on a redesign until 2026, the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, with new bills coming out no earlier than 2028. The $\$$10 and $\$$50 bills will be redesigned first with new security features to prevent counterfeiting.

Critics panned the decision.

“During her life, Harriet Tubman fought to make the values enshrined in our constitution a reality for all Americans – and it is far past time that we recognize her place in history. The administration’s decision to drag their feet and delay the redesign of the $\$$20 until 2028 is unacceptable,” said Representative Elijah Cummings, who together with the Republican representative John Katko introduced legislation to require the treasury to put Tubman’s picture on the $\$$20. Katko said he was “disappointed” and urged the administration to reconsider.

During his campaign for president, Trump criticized the decision to redesign the bill, calling it “pure political correctness”.

“Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill,” he said, suggesting putting Tubman on another denomination, like the little-circulated $\$$2 bill, and leaving Jackson in place., 23 May 2019 (adapted)


Answer the following questions in English, using your own words:

a. Who was Harriet Tubman and what is she famous for?

b. Why was she chosen by President Obama to appear on a US banknote?

c. Why was the $\$$20 bill preferred to notes of other denominations?

d. Why, officially, has Harriet Tubman’s appearance on the $\$$20 bill been delayed?

e. What does the Guardian article suggest are the real reasons behind this delay? And why does it not say so explicitly?