The U.S. Mint on Monday began rolling out of 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, the agency said.
Last year, the mint announced it would include several prominent figures in its American Women Quarters Program, including Angelou;, Chinese American film star Anna May Wong, the first American woman in space, Sally Ride; and Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to be elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
”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. ”This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women.”
Established through the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, the program requires that five notable U.S. women be recognized on quarters every year between 2022 and 2025.
Angelou was a celebrated author and social activist. Her 1969 autobiography, ”I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” was nominated for the National Book Award.
She read her poem ”On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2010.
Angelou died in 2014.
”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,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., another sponsor of the bill. ”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.”’
Those seeking the quarter depicting Angelou or any of the other women honored through the program should check with their bank beginning in late January and early February, according to the mint.