Maya Angelou, an African-American poet and civil rights activist, has become the first Black woman to appear on the US 25-cent coin known as a quarter.
In a statement late Monday, the US Mint said it “has begun shipping the first coins” as part of the American Women Quarters Program, which honors trailblazing women.
It is the first in the program, and coins featuring additional honorees will begin shipping later this year and through 2025.
The first coin of the American Women Quarters™ Program is here—the Maya Angelou Quarter! Learn about honoree Maya Angelou and #HerQuarter in our press release at https://t.co/yYzGJpXQDD. Look for it in your change. @USTreasury @smithsonian @womenshistory @DrMayaAngelou @WCPInst pic.twitter.com/GVUpcnbszq
— United States Mint (@usmint) January 10, 2022
“It is my honor to present our Nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” said US 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.”
The new quarters, which have been minted in Philadelphia and Denver, show George Washington, the country’s first president, on one side and Angelou on the other.
The other figures to receive the honor this year are Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Nina Otero-Warren, a New Mexico suffrage leader and Anna May Wong, first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.
A writer, poet, performer, social activist, and teacher, Angelou rose to international prominence as an author after the publication of her groundbreaking autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Angelou’s published works of verse, non-fiction, and fiction include more than 30 bestselling titles.
The recipient of several honorary degrees, Angelou read On the Pulse of Morning at the 1992 inauguration of US President Bill Clinton, the first time an African-American woman wrote and presented a poem at a presidential inauguration.
In 2010, US President Barack Obama awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She died in 2014 at the age of 86.