Maya Angelou is the first African-American woman to be featured on a US quarter.
The presence of the writer and civil rights activist on the coin, according to the US Treasury Secretary, reflects “what we value and how we’ve grown as a nation.”
After a coin bearing the late poet and activist’s likeness went into circulation on Monday, Maya Angelou became the first Black woman to feature on a US quarter.
With a depiction of George Washington on the “heads” side, the quarter depicts Angelou with her arms raised, a bird in flight, and a rising sun behind her. The depiction of Angelou was “inspired by her poetry and indicative of the way she lived,” according to the US Mint.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the poet and writer who died in 2014, was the author of a book about racial persecution she faced as a child. She performed her poem On the Pulse of the Morning during Bill Clinton’s 1992 inauguration and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2010. She is the author of 36 books and has received more than 20 honorary degrees.
“We have the opportunity to say something about our nation – what we value and how we’ve grown as a society – every time we redesign our money.” “I’m extremely delighted that these coins honour some of America’s most exceptional women, including Maya Angelou,” stated US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
The Angelou quarter is the first in the US Mint’s American Women Quarters series, which will also feature Dr. Sally Ride, the first female astronaut, and Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first female main chief, later this year. Following a bill introduced by Democrat congressman Barbara Lee, the public was encouraged to contribute names of notable women for the programme.
“I will always treasure the intimate times I had the honour of sharing with Maya, from conversing in her living room as sisters to her important guidance through the hardships I encountered as a Black woman in public office,” Lee stated. “I am honoured to have led this campaign to honour these extraordinary women, who are sometimes neglected in our country’s historical narrative.” May you be reminded of Maya Angelou’s words if you find yourself holding a Maya Angelou quarter: “Be assured that you do not die without having done something good for mankind.”
Maya Angelou will be the first African-American woman to feature on a quarter.
Dr. Maya Angelou, an acclaimed African-American poet and activist, has been featured on quarters for the first time, marking the first time a black woman has been on the currency.
“Every time we redesign our currency, we have the opportunity to say something about our nation – what we value, and how we’ve grown as a society,” said Janet Yellen, the United States’ first female Treasury Secretary.
According to a second announcement from the US Mint, the commemorative coin is the first in the American Women Quarters programme, which comprises quarters recognising pioneering women in US history.
On the “heads” side, Angelou’s quarter will keep the usual bust of George Washington, while the “tails” side will honour the African-American trailblazer’s renowned autobiography “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.”
Yellen enthused over the project, saying, “I’m really delighted that these coins honour the accomplishments of some of America’s most exceptional women, like Maya Angelou.”
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), the program’s Senate sponsor, said, “Maya Angelou’s writing and advocacy inspired many Americans, and her legacy helped spark greater justice and understanding throughout our country.” “This coin will guarantee that future generations of Americans be aware of Maya Angelou’s novels and poetry, which speak to black women’s lived experiences.”
According to the US Mint, four more commemorative quarters will be released this year, honouring Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first female leader; Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American Hollywood celebrity; and suffragette Nina Otero-Warren. According to reports, the initiative will go until 2025.
This isn’t the first time a government has sought for greater representation of African-Americans on legal money. The Joe Biden administration said in January that it will speed up efforts to replace previous president Andrew Jackson on the $20 note with Harriet Tubman. The project was first launched in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama, but it was later stymied by former President Donald Trump, who is a Jackson devotee.
Angelou, who was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1928, is best known for her book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which was the first nonfiction bestseller written by an African American woman and was published in 1969. She was also a part of the Civil Rights Movement, where she worked with legendary figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Two NAACP Image Awards in the area of best literary work (nonfiction) were given to the pioneer in 2005 and 2009, respectively, as well as a Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President Barack Obama in 2010.