U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin demurred when asked if he supports his predecessor’s decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. “We have a lot more important issues to focus on,” he told CNBC last week.

Granted, Mnuchin is dealing with a possible showdown on raising the national debt ceiling and the Trump administration’s push for tax cuts. But in a nation that achieved greatness through the contributions of all, he is wrong if he thinks reneging on a pledge to put the first African-American woman on paper money is not important.

A massive grass-roots drive for a woman to be included on U.S. currency preceded last year’s announcement by then-Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew that Tubman, a one-time slave, leader of the Underground Railroad and Union hero of the Civil War, would replace President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. Lew came up with a truly elegant way to provide for the addition of women and civil rights leaders on banknotes without dropping the presidents already depicted.

Jackson’s image would be retained in a redesigned reverse side of the $20 bill, and Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton would remain on the front of the $5 and $10 bills, but the reverse of those notes would be redesigned to include depictions of such historic events as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial and a 1914 suffragette march at the Treasury building.

Lew knew that implementation of his scheme would rest with a new administration. But he dismissed concerns that the reform would be reversed. “I don’t think somebody’s going to probably want to do that,” he said.

But then no one would have thought it possible that the president of the United States would want to describe people at a neo-Nazi rally as “very fine people” or equate those protesting white supremacy with those promoting it. Harriet Tubman was a woman who distinguished herself during this country’s greatest trial. Putting her on the $20 bill is symbolically important – and so, too, would be denying her that rightful honor.

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