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

Individuals of America, begin taking note of your change.

A brand new quarter design, that includes a portrait of the legendary poet and activist Maya Angelou, went into circulation on Monday. Angelou is the first African American woman ever to look on a quarter, and the first within the American Girls Quarters Program, which celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by ladies to the US.

Manufactured by the US Mint—the bureau of the Division of the Treasury that’s liable for producing U.S. cash—the quarter reveals Angelou on the tails aspect of the coin. Her arms are uplifted in opposition to the backdrop of a chicken, its wings unfold open, and a rising solar impressed by her most well-known work and autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Fowl Sings.”

[Photo: US Mint]Over the subsequent few years, the Mint will difficulty 4 extra quarters showcasing a various group of honorees. These embody Dr. Sally Experience, the first woman astronaut; Wilma Mankiller, the first feminine principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; Nina Otero-Warren, a frontrunner in New Mexico’s suffrage motion; and Anna Could Wong, the first Chinese language American movie star in Hollywood. “Every 2022 quarter is designed to mirror the breadth and depth of accomplishments being celebrated all through this historic coin program,” Mint deputy director Ventris C. Gibson stated in a release yesterday. With the assistance of the Nationwide Girls’s History Museum, the U.S. Mint invited the general public to submit suggestions for potential honorees, with the requirement that the ladies have to be deceased. (It’s unclear what portion of the brand new quarters will likely be devoted to the ladies.)


[Photo: US Mint]The Maya Angelou aspect of the coin was designed by Emily Damstra, an artist on the Mint who can be behind the design for the Anna Could Wong coin. It was sculpted by United States Mint medallic artist Craig A. Campbell. The entrance of the coin, which has lengthy portrayed George Washington, depicts a portrait of Washington that was impressed by the famed life-mask bust by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. The portrait was initially designed and sculpted in 1932 by some of the prolific feminine sculptors of the early twentieth century, Laura Gardin Fraser, who entered a contest held by Congress for a brand new coin to honor the 2 hundredth anniversary of Washington’s start. It wasn’t chosen then, however it’s now being revived on the backs of all of the cash which can be a part of the American Girls Quarters Program.

Girls 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 appeared on the 2003 Alabama quarter, and the 2004 Iowa state quarter featured a picture of a feminine instructor. Susan B. Anthony, who performed a pivotal position within the ladies’s suffrage motion, appeared on a greenback coin again in 1979, and Native American Sacajawea appeared on a golden greenback coin issued in 2000.

Now, the American Girls Quarters Program guarantees to honor ladies extra prominently and throughout an extended time period. This system additionally brings renewed curiosity to the long-awaited $20 invoice depicting Nineteenth-century abolitionist Harriet Tubman. In 2016, President Barack Obama introduced that Tubman would seem on the $20 invoice by 2020, however that was delayed beneath President Donald Trump and seems to now be mired in delays. Regardless of a renewed push from the Biden administration, Tubman is not scheduled to look on the $20 by the top of Biden’s first time period, an effort that’s additional difficult by the necessity to redesign the invoice so it contains tactile signifiers for people who find themselves blind or visually impaired.

The brand new quarters, in the meantime, have been licensed by the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, which handed in January 2021 and permits the Division of the Treasury and U.S. Mint to difficulty new quarter-dollar cash.  The cash that includes the subsequent honorees will begin delivery later this 12 months. Subsequent up is Sally Experience’s coin, set to return out in February, adopted by Mankiller’s quarter within the spring.