The United States Mint has unveiled a new version of the quarter, featuring Maya Angelou, the first Black woman to appear on a US coin, in honor of her birthday. Angelou will also be the inaugural person commemorated through the American Women Quarters Program, which was passed in January 2021 and went into effect that same year.
According to a press release from the US Mint, “the first coins” with Angelou’s image on the American quarter, a 25-cent piece, have begun shipping. “It is an honor for me to present the first circulating coins in our nation’s history honoring American women and their impact on United States history,” said Mint Deputy Director Ventris Gibson.
Each quarter of the year 2022 is meant to represent the breadth and depth of accomplishments highlighted throughout this revolutionary coin series. Maya Angelou, who appears on the reverse of this first coin in the series, used words to inspire and uplift people.
The program requires the US Mint to produce quarters each year between 2022 and 2025 depicting five different female trailblazers who have helped shape America. “I’m very glad that these coins pay tribute to some of America’s most illustrious women,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen remarked.
“Each time we change our money, we have the opportunity to voice our country’s values and how it has advanced as a society,” she added. On one side is George Washington, the nation’s first president, and on the other is an eagle.
On one side, the new quarters feature Washington and Angelou; on the other, they have Philadelphia and Denver.
The other people who will be featured on the coin in 2022 are: Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Nina Otero-Warren, a New Mexico suffrage leader and Anna May Wong, a Chinese American film star.
Maya Angelou, a writer and poet who collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Movement, was born in Missouri in 1928. Maya Angelou, who recited the poem at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, died in 2014.
The Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has also expressed her support for putting Harriet Tubman on US currency.
The $20 bill will be replaced by the first woman on currency in U.S. history, Harriet Tubman, according to reports. However, the project was abandoned under the Trump administration.
Yellen said in September that putting Tubman, a Black woman who escaped slavery and became a leader of the pre-Civil War abolitionist movement, on the bill would be an “honor,” adding that designing banknotes takes time.
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