Everything you need to know about the Maya Angelou coin

The American Women Quarters Program will include women and their contributions to American history

Jade Bremner
Tuesday 11 January 2022 18:59 GMT
Mint releases new quarter with Maya Angelou on it

A new quarter will feature civil rights activist Maya Angelou on it, making her the first Black woman to appear on a US 25-cent piece.

This will be the first design produced by the US Mint in a four-year series of trailblazing women in US history. Ms Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings accounts how she overcame racism and trauma through literature. She’s received more than 30 honourary degrees and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama. She received the Literarian Award in 2013.

Portraits in the "American Women Quarters Program," will include actress Anna May Wong, suffragist and politician women’s rights activist Nina Otero-Warren, astronaut Sally Ride and Cherokee activist Wilma Mankiller.

“Each 2022 quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of accomplishments being celebrated throughout this historic coin program,” said Mint Deputy Director Ventris C Gibson.

Ms Angelou’s coin was created by artist Emily Damstra and sculpted by medallic artist Craig A. Campbell to depict Ms Angelou’s poetry and the way she lived. It shows her arms lifted against the image of a bird in flight and a rising sun alongside the US motto “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning “out of many, one”. The phrase also appears on passports and government documents.

“Maya Angelou’s writing and activism inspired countless Americans and her legacy helped fuel greater fairness and understanding across our nation,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who sponsored the bill.

“This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women.”

Bill sponsor Representative Barbara Lee knew Ms Angelou personally, “I will forever cherish the private moments I had the privilege to share with Maya, from talking in her living room as sisters to her invaluable counsel throughout the challenges I faced as a Black woman in elected office,” she said. “I am proud to have led this effort to honour these phenomenal women, who more often than not are overlooked in our country’s telling of history. If you find yourself holding a Maya Angelou quarter, may you be reminded of her words, ‘be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.'”

The reverse side of the coin will have a portrait of the founding father and first president of the United States George Washington.

Five quarters will be released every year by the Mint featuring various people who have achieved great things in the fields of government, humanities, science, space, the arts, suffrage, civil rights and abolition.

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