Maya Angelou Becomes First Black Woman on a Quarter

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U.S.|Maya Angelou Becomes First Black Woman connected a Quarter

The coins featuring the writer and poet, which began shipping this week, are the archetypal successful a bid that volition commemorate pistillate pioneers successful a assortment of fields.

Maya Angelou successful  2006. The writer’s likeness is featured connected  a caller   bid    of quarters from the U.S. Mint.
Credit...Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Livia Albeck-Ripka

Jan. 11, 2022, 11:40 a.m. ET

The writer and writer Maya Angelou has go the archetypal Black pistillate to person her likeness depicted connected the quarter, the archetypal successful a bid of coins commemorating pioneering American women that began shipping this week, the U.S. Mint announced Monday.

“It is my grant to contiguous our nation’s archetypal circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” Ventris C. Gibson, the lawman manager of the Mint, said successful a statement. “Maya Angelou,” she added, “used words to animate and uplift.”

Ms. Angelou’s landmark 1969 memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” documented her puerility successful the Jim Crow South and was among the archetypal autobiographies by a 20th-century Black pistillate to scope a wide wide readership.

In it, she writes, “there is nary greater agony than bearing an untold communicative wrong you.”

Ms. Angelou recited a poem astatine President Bill Clinton’s archetypal inauguration, successful 1993, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama successful 2011.

Ms. Angelou, who died successful 2014 astatine 86, was “one of the brightest lights of our clip — a superb writer, a fierce person and a genuinely phenomenal woman,” Mr. Obama said astatine the time.


Credit...The Department Of Treasury/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

The 4th featuring her likeness — created by Emily Damstra, a designer, and Craig A. Campbell, a medallic creator — depicts Ms. Angelou with her arms uplifted, successful beforehand of a vertebrate successful formation and rays of sunlight streaking retired from down her. The images were some “inspired by her poesy and symbolic of the mode she lived,” the Mint said.

Ms. Angelou is featured connected the “tails” broadside of the 25-cent piece; the “heads” broadside includes a representation of George Washington.

The coin is the archetypal successful the American Women Quarters Program, a four-year effort successful which the Mint volition contented 5 quarters a twelvemonth to grant women successful fields including women’s suffrage, civilian rights, abolition, government, humanities, subject and the arts. This year’s different honorees are Sally Ride, the archetypal American pistillate successful space; Wilma Mankiller, a Native American activist; Nina Otero-Warren, a person successful New Mexico’s suffrage movement; and Anna May Wong, the archetypal Chinese American movie prima successful Hollywood.

The Mint has antecedently issued coins featuring Black women, including a commemorative golden coin successful 2017 that depicted Lady Liberty arsenic a Black woman.

The suffragist Susan B. Anthony was the archetypal pistillate to beryllium featured connected a circulating U.S. coin; metallic dollars with her representation were archetypal released successful 1979. (A dollar coin featuring Sacagawea, the Shoshone pistillate who helped Lewis and Clark crossed the plains, was produced from 2000 to 2008.) In 2003, the Mint released a 4th featuring Helen Keller, the writer and activistic for the disabled.

On insubstantial currency, the abolitionist Harriet Tubman is expected to regenerate Andrew Jackson connected the $20 measure by 2030, according to the Treasury Department.

Representative Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who sponsored a measure promoting the caller coins’ creation, said successful a connection past twelvemonth that she was arrogant to person led an effort honoring the “phenomenal” women who were often overlooked successful American history.

She added: “If you find yourself holding a Maya Angelou quarter, whitethorn you beryllium reminded of her words, ‘be definite that you bash not dice without having done thing fantastic for humanity.’”

Maria Cramer contributed reporting.

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