Many coins and banknotes have pictures of kings, queens and presidents but the US Mint sticks out in a positive was by introducing the American Women Quarters program “celebrating the contributions American women have made to this country”. The program starts with quarters featuring late American author and activist Maya Angelou, who will be the first Black women to appear on the coin.
The Quarters program is a four-year series starting in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the Mint will release up to five quarters each year honouring a different woman.
The 2022 quarters will honour:
- Maya Angelou– celebrated writer, performer, and social activist
- Sally Ride– physicist, astronaut, educator, and first American woman in space
- Wilma Mankiller– first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation
- Nina Otero-Warren– a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools
- Anna May Wong– first Chinese American film star in Hollywood
First out is Angelou who became internationally known with her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” describing rape and racism in the segregated South.
Angelou read “On the Pulse of Morning” at the 1992 inauguration of former President Bill Clinton. It was the first time an African American woman wrote and presented a poem at a presidential inauguration.
She was in 2010 by former President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She died in 2014 aged 86.
“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country – what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society. I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou”, US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, said in a statement.
The Mint will release up to five quarters each year 2022 – 2025 honouring a different woman.
The Mint selects the honourees through a special process. The National Women’s History Museum website haw hosted a web portal allowing members of the public to submit names of women they’d like to see on quarters. The portal received more than 11,000 submissions in the short time it was open.
Those recommendations form the bulk of the pool the Mint and stakeholders draw from when considering potential honourees for the Quarters program.
The quarters may feature women with contributions from a variety of fields, including, but not limited to, suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. The women honoured will be from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds.