Maya Angelou has made history. The writer and poet has become the first Black woman to be featured on a quarter as the first installment of a series commemorating pioneering American women that began shipping this week, the U.S. Mint announced.
“It is my honor to present our nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” Ventris C. Gibson, the deputy director of the Mint, said in a statement per The New York Times. “Maya Angelou,” she added, “used words to inspire and uplift.”
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
The coin depicts Angelou spreading her arms uplifted in front of the bald eagle, a nod to her famous memoir I Know Why A Caged Bird Sings.
Angelou, who died in 2014 at the age of 86, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011 where Obama spoke said that she was “one of the brightest lights of our time — a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman.”
“The coin is the first in the American Women Quarters Program, a four-year effort in which the Mint will issue five quarters a year to honor women in fields including women’s suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, and the arts. This year’s other honorees are Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, a Native American activist; Nina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood,” the outlet reports.
The Mint previously depicted Lady Liberty as a Black woman back in 2017 on a commemorative gold coin.
The first woman to be on a coin was suffragist Susan B. Anthony where she was featured on the silver dollar that was first released in 1979.