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Stephen Colbert shows us the absurd stuff we put on American money — before Harriet Tubman

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

On Wednesday it was announced that Harriet Tubman, American hero and abolitionist, would be replacing Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. It's a historic (perhaps controversial) decision, that will go into effect in 2030. But as Stephen Colbert pointed out on last night's episode of The Late Show, it's also a sign of how little progress has been made.

"Apparently, in the 'what to put on our money priority list,' woman and African American both came after Cyclops pyramid," he joked.

Colbert isn't wrong. My colleague Dylan Matthews explained that Andrew Jackson was an ethnic cleanser, war criminal, and slaver — and he's had a place on one of the most useful pieces of American currency for decades and decades, and will continue to be on the bill even after Tubman replaces him (she will be on the front of the bill and he will be on the back.)

While celebrating this decision, Colbert also took time to remind us of the progress that still needs to be made — that Tubman's face on money isn't a magic bullet.

"It's truly exciting to have a woman on the $20," he said. "But due to the wage gap, it's now worth $17."

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