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Maya Angelou will be on the quarter, making her the first Black woman to appear

The U.S. Mint announced new quarters featuring women of color

Poet Maya Angelou smiles.
Poet Maya Angelou smiles at an event in Washington. On Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, the United States Mint said it has begun shipping quarters featuring the image of poet Maya Angelou, the first coins in its American Women Quarters Program.
Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

The United States Mint said on Monday that it will ship out the first quarters featuring American women, starting with poet, writer and activist Maya Angelou, according to The Associated Press.

The coin is a part of the American Women Quarters Program, expected to be shipped this year through 2025. George Washington will remain engraved on one side.

Angelou, the first Black woman to appear on the quarter, will be honored along with four other women, including Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first female principal chief, Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American Hollywood film star, Adelina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement, and Sally Ride, an astronaut and physicist who was the first American woman in space, per USA Today.

Washington will remain engraved on one side of the coin. On the other side will be Angelou with her arms uplifted, with a bird and the rising sun behind her, “inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived.”

“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 Ventris C. Gibson.

“Each 2022 quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of accomplishments being celebrated throughout this historic coin program. Maya Angelou, featured on the reverse of this first coin in the series, used words to inspire and uplift.”

Per CNN, this program was credited to Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who introduced the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, which passed in January 2021.

Lee took to Twitter to honor the occasion. “The phenomenal women who shaped American history have gone unrecognized for too long—especially women of color. Proud to have led this bill to honor their legacies,” she wrote.

The U.S. Mint invited people to submit names of women they view as American icons. The emphasis is on women from “ethnically, racially and geographically diverse backgrounds.” Apart from that, the only requirement is that the women who appear on the coins must be deceased.