Campaign launched to put Alabama native Helen Keller on new $10 bill

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A campaign for making Alabama-native Helen Keller the face of the new $10 bill has officially begun.

State and local officials rallied in Tuscumbia at Ivy Green, the north Alabama home of the late Helen Keller, for a press event Wednesday sponsored by the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education. The event aimed to inform the public of the campaign and to garner public support for a Helen Keller bill.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced plans to place a woman’s face on the redesigned bill and opened the suggestion process to the public through its website, www.thenew10.treasury.gov.

“The Treasury wants the selected woman to illustrate ‘America’s values,’ and ‘inclusive democracy’ internationally, since the dollar is also the world’s currency,” explained Laura Beckwith, Executive Director of the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education. “Eleanor Roosevelt called Helen Keller, ‘America’s goodwill ambassador to the world’ and her legacy remains beloved today, as her story is still taught to literate people worldwide.”

Keller was born June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia. In 1882, at 19 months old, she contracted a severe illness that left her deaf, blind and mute. Keller overcame the adversity of her physical limitations to become one of the 20th century’s leading humanitarians, as well as a world-famous speaker and author.

“If Helen Keller was selected to grace the face of ‘TheNewTen,’ it would lead to worldwide appreciation of why she was selected by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important people of the twentieth century,” Beckwith continued. “”TheNew10′ will also be the first U.S. paper currency with a tactile feature distinguishable by visually impaired persons, making the choice of Helen Keller even more compelling.”

The Alabama Legislature is also behind the Keller-bill initiative. In 2015, following Treasury’s announcement of a redesigned bill, the Legislature passed a resolution supporting Keller as the state’s official choice for the new $10 bill. The Resolution includes references to Keller’s numerous accolades including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and her accomplishment as an author of 13 books.

The Treasury Department plans to release the next version of the $10 bill into circulation in 2020. 

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