Treasury rolls out quarters featuring Maya Angelou, first Black woman on the coin

U.S. Mint

The U.S. Mint on Monday announced it has begun shipping out the first coins in its American Women Quarters Program, with the late poet and novelist Maya Angelou becoming the first Black woman to be depicted on the quarter.

Last year, the Mint announced it would be including several notable figures in its American Women Quarters Program, including Angelou; Chinese American film star Anna May Wong; the first U.S. woman in space, Sally Ride; and Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to be elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

The program was established through the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, which required that five prominent American women be recognized on quarters every year between 2022 and 2025.

“Maya Angelou’s writing and activism inspired countless Americans and her legacy helped fuel greater fairness and understanding across our nation,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), a sponsor of the redesign bill, said in a statement.

“She is exactly the type of leader I had in mind when Senator Fischer, Representative Lee and I wrote our bipartisan legislation to create a series of quarters honoring the contributions of American women,” Cortez Masto said. “This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women.”

Angelou, who died in 2014, led a celebrated career as an author and social activist. Her 1969 autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” was nominated for the National Book Award and has become a staple in literary education.

In 1992, she read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of former President Clinton. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Obama in 2010.

“I will forever cherish the private moments I had the privilege to share with Maya, from talking in her living room as sisters to her invaluable counsel throughout the challenges I faced as a Black woman in elected office,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), another sponsor of the bill, said.

“I am proud to have led this effort to honor these phenomenal women, who more often than not are overlooked in our country’s telling of history. If you find yourself holding a Maya Angelou quarter, may you be reminded of her words, ‘be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.'”

People who would like to have a quarter depicting Angelou or any of the other women honored through the program should consult with their bank beginning in late January and early February, according to the Mint.

Tags Barack Obama Barbara Lee Catherine Cortez Masto commemorative coin I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou On the Pulse of Morning U.S. Mint

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