Maya Angelou makes history as first Black woman on U.S. quarter

People of America, begin listening to your change.

A brand new quarter design, that includes a portrait of the legendary poet, author, and activist Maya Angelou, went into circulation on Monday. Angelou is the first African American woman to seem on a quarter, and the first to be celebrated as a part of the American Women Quarters Program, a four-year program that honors the accomplishments and contributions of distinguished girls all through U.S. history.

Manufactured by the U.S. Mint, the bureau of the Department of the Treasury that produces and circulates our foreign money’s cash, the quarter reveals a likeness of Angelou on the “tails” aspect of the coin. Her arms are uplifted towards the backdrop of a chicken in flight, its wings unfold broad, and rays of the solar, impressed by her autobiography and most well-known work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, about rising up within the Jim Crow South.

[Photo: US Mint]Over the following a number of years, the Mint will problem quarters showcasing a various group of honorees. This 12 months’s different trailblazers embody Sally Ride, the first woman astronaut; Wilma Mankiller, the first feminine principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; Nina Otero-Warren, a number one suffragist in New Mexico; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star. “Each 2022 quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of accomplishments being celebrated throughout this historic coin program,” Mint deputy director Ventris C. Gibson stated in a release yesterday. With the assistance of the National Women’s History Museum, the U.S. Mint invited the general public to submit suggestions for potential honorees, with the requirement that the ladies should be deceased.


[Photo: US Mint]The Maya Angelou aspect of the coin was designed by Emily Damstra, an artist and illustrator who can be behind the design of the Anna May Wong coin; it was sculpted by Mint medallic artist Craig A. Campbell. The entrance of the coin options George Washington, who has been the face of the 25-cent piece since 1932, in celebration of the first president’s bicentennial birthday. (Prior to Washington, the quarter bore totally different iterations of “Liberty”—a right-facing bust from 1796 till 1916, changed by a standing Liberty till 1930.) The entrance of the Angelou quarter and its American Women Quarters’ successors nonetheless function a likeness of Washington, however this one was designed by Laura Gardin Fraser, some of the prolific feminine sculptors of the early twentieth century. In reality, Fraser’s was the advisable design from the 1932 bicentennial-quarter competitors, however then-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon vetoed it for the (now acquainted) left-facing Washington profile by famend sculptor and medallic artist John Flanagan. It appears solely becoming, then, that the design of a distinguished woman artist is being revived for this collection of celebrated American girls.

Women have appeared on U.S. cash earlier than, however they have been few and much between. As a part of the 50 State Quarters Program, Helen Keller adorned the 2003 Alabama state quarter, and the 2004 Iowa state quarter featured a picture of a feminine instructor. Susan B. Anthony, whose suffrage work paved the best way for the nineteenth Amendment, giving girls the correct to vote, appeared on a silver greenback again in 1979, and early Native American Sacagawea was celebrated on a golden greenback coin produced from 2000 to 2008.

Now, the American Women Quarters Program intends to honor many extra traditionally completed girls. The program additionally brings renewed curiosity to the long-awaited $20 invoice depicting nineteenth century abolitionist Harriet Tubman, anticipated to switch Andrew Jackson by 2030. In 2016, President Barack Obama introduced that Tubman would seem on the $20 invoice by 2020, however that was delayed by President Donald Trump and seems to now be mired in additional delays. Despite a renewed push from the Biden administration, Tubman is not scheduled to seem on the $20 invoice earlier than the tip of Biden’s first time period—an effort additional sophisticated by the necessity to redesign the invoice to incorporate tactile signifiers for these blind or visually impaired.

Maya Angelou’s and the extra new quarters have been licensed by the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, which handed in January 2021 and permits the Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Mint to problem new quarter-dollar cash.  The cash that includes the following honorees will begin transport later this 12 months. Next up is Sally Ride’s coin, dropping in February, adopted by Mankiller’s quarter within the spring.


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