Poet and activist Maya Angelou became the first black woman to appear in the US quarter in a new edition of the coin unveiled by the US Mint on Monday.
Angelo, author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” will also be the first figure to be celebrated through the American Women’s Quarter Program, which was signed into law in January 2021.
According to a press release from the agency, the US Mint has “began shipping the first coins”, with Angelo’s likeness on the US quarter, a 25-cent piece.
“It is my honor to present our nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” said Mint Deputy Director Ventrice Gibson.
“Each 2022 quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of the achievements being celebrated in this historic coin event. Maya Angelou illustrated on the back of this first coin in the series, using words for inspiration and upliftment “
The program instructs the US Mint to issue quarters every year between 2022 and 2025, which includes five different female trailblazers who have contributed to the country.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she was “proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women.”
“Every time we redesign our currency, we have a chance to say something about our country, what we value and how we have progressed as a society,” he said in a statement. “
For the past 90 years, this quarter has featured the country’s first president, George Washington, on one side and an eagle on the other.
The new quarters – which have been built in Philadelphia and Denver – show Washington on one side and Angelo on the other.
Other figures to appear on the coin in 2022 are: Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, Wilma Mankiller, the first female head of state of the Cherokee Nation, Nina Otero-Warren, a New Mexico suffrage leader, and Anna May Wong, a Chinese American film. star.
Angelo, born in Missouri in 1928, was an essayist and poet who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Movement.
Angelou, who penned the poem at the first inauguration of former President Bill Clinton, died in 2014.
Treasury Secretary Yellen has also indicated support for recognizing former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the US currency.
Former President Barack Obama launched a project to put Tubman’s face on the $20 bill, but it stalled under Donald Trump’s administration.
Yellen said in September that it would be an “honour” to put Tubman, a black woman who escaped slavery and became leader of the abolitionist movement pre-Civil War, on the bill, but designing banknotes takes time.
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