The United States Mint on Monday launched its American Women’s Quarters program, a four-year initiative to honor the work and achievements of various American women by placing their images on the new quarters being launched from 2022 to 2025.
To mark the start of the program, the Mint issued quarters featuring author, artist and activist Maya Angelou. Known for her 1969 memoir, I know why the captive bird sings, Angelo is depicted on the coin, with his arms outstretched in front of the rising sun and a bird in flight.
“Every time we redesign our currency, we have a chance to say something about our country – what we value, and how we have progressed as a society. I am very proud That these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
“Maya Angelou … used words to inspire and uplift,” said Mint deputy director Ventrice Gibson.
US Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Emily Damstra created the design, while Mint’s medalist artist Craig A. Campbell created it. According to the press release, the artists were inspired by Angelou’s poetry and his way of life.
Angelo’s likeness quarter is one of five new coins issued this year, each with an image of a prominent woman, who has contributed to various businesses and institutions.
Additional honors include Sally Ride. The physicist and educator made history on June 18, 1983, when she entered space on the shuttle Challenger following NASA’s policy change to allow women in space in the late 1970s.
When Challenger exploded in 1986, she was one of the top investigators investigating the incident.
Mint originally announced Angelo and Ride as the program’s first honorees in April 2021. She later revealed three additional honorees last June: Wilma Mankiller, Adelina Otero-Warren and Anna May Wong.
Mankiller was the first woman elected as the head of state of the Cherokee Nation. She has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples in America. In her quarters she is depicted wearing traditional clothing with a Cherokee Nation seven-pointed star.
Otero-Warren was the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools and a top leader of New Mexico’s suffrage movement, which made major efforts to ratify the 19th Amendment in the state. The amendment gives American women the right to vote. Otero-Warren’s coin shows her image with the slogan “Voto para la mujer”, which means “Vote the women.”
The first Chinese film star in Hollywood, Wong has appeared in over 60 films. He was cast in his first leading role in 1922 in the film, sea toll, Despite his talent and fame, Wong faced significant discrimination in the US, which led him to leave the US after working in the industry for several years.
Wong was also known for his activism, as he raised funds and advocated for Chinese refugees during World War II. She also became the first Asian American artist to play a lead role in a television show with her role in the 1951 program, Gallery of Madame Liu-song,
For each year of the programme, five new quarters will be created. By 2025, 20 women will be on the faces of American quarters.
According to the press release, Mint Gibson said it was an honor to introduce “the nation’s first circulating coin dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history.”
“Each 2022 quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of the achievements being celebrated in this historic coin event,” Gibson said.
According to the press release, the quarters manufactured at mint facilities in Philadelphia and Denver will now be shipped nationwide.
The US Women’s Quarter program is authorized by the Circulating Coin Redesign Act of 2020, which was initiated by California Democratic Representative Barbara Lee.
As the nonprofit newsroom The 19th reports, Lee had been working on the law since 2017 and was inspired to honor women through a medium that has traditionally recognized men.
“I wanted to make sure that women would be respected, and that their images and names would be picked up on our coins. I mean, it’s outrageous that we didn’t,” Lee said. “Hopefully the public really Will pay attention to who these women were, because these women have contributed to our country in many ways.”