The U.S. Mint will be honoring 20 trailblazing women on a new series of quarters, kicking off the series with Maya Angelou as part of the American Women Quarters Program.
Maya Angelou, one of the most powerful poets and a civil rights activist, is making history yet again. She is the first Black woman to be featured on a quarter-dollar, according to PEOPLE.
In 1993, Angelou became the first African-American woman to recite poetry at a presidential inauguration. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in 2010. Angelou died at the age of 86 in 2014.
The U.S. Mint will be honoring 20 trailblazing women on a new series of quarters, kicking off the series with Angelou as part of the American Women Quarters Program. The coin was released in a bid to pay tribute to Black rights activists, as part of the American Women Quarters Program, the United States Mint shared on its site, adding that the bureau has already started shipping the coin. "Beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the Mint will issue five quarters in each of these years."
"These circulating quarters honoring Maya Angelou are manufactured at the Mint facilities in Philadelphia and Denver. Coins featuring additional honorees will begin shipping later this year and through 2025," reads the press release.
“It is my honor to present our Nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” said Mint Deputy Director Ventris C. Gibson. “Each 2022 quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of accomplishments being celebrated throughout this historic coin program. Maya Angelou, featured on the reverse of this first coin in the series, used words to inspire and uplift.”
The first coin of the American Women Quarters™ Program is here—the Maya Angelou Quarter! Learn about honoree Maya Angelou and #HerQuarter in our press release at https://t.co/yYzGJpXQDD. Look for it in your change. @USTreasury @smithsonian @womenshistory @DrMayaAngelou @WCPInst pic.twitter.com/GVUpcnbszq— United States Mint (@usmint) January 10, 2022
“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country — what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said. “I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou,” he added per The Washington Post.
Maya Angelou is depicted on the coin with her arms uplifted, a bird in flight and a rising sun behind her—“images inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived,” according to the U.S. Mint. In addition to “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and “MAYA ANGELOU,” the inscriptions on the coin includes the phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” Latin for “out of many, one,” a phrase also on the national seal.
While these new quarters still feature George Washington on the heads side, Angelou appears on the tails side in a position. The coin is designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Artist Emily Damstra and sculpted by United States Mint Medallic Artist Craig A. Campbell.
The additional honorees in 2022 are physicist and first woman astronaut Dr. Sally Ride; Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and an activist for Native American and women’s rights; Nina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, who achieved international success despite racism and discrimination.
Cover Image Source: Twitter | United States Mint