The late poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou becomes the first African-American woman to appear on a quarter-dollar coin


The United States Mint began circulating coins featuring the late poet Maya Angelou, the first African-American woman to appear on the US quarter dollar coin.

As an author and civil rights activist, Angelou is the first of a group of women who will appear on the American Currency as part of the American Women Quarters program.

Angelou worked with Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X during the civil rights movement.

She rose to prominence as a poet with the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969, and was the first African-American woman to write and present a poem at a presidential inauguration in 1992.

Angelou, who died in 2014 at the age of 86, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

The design of the 25-cent coin shows Angelou with outstretched arms.

Behind her, a bird in flight and a rising sun, images inspired by her poetry.

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

The Mint’s program will release 20 quarters over the next four years, honoring women and their accomplishments in shaping the country’s history.

The other recipients in 2022 will be physicist and first female astronaut Sally Ride, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Nina Otero-Warren, leader of the suffrage movement in New Mexico and first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools, and Anna May Wong, first Chinese-American movie star in Hollywood will also be honored this year.

Maya Angelou’s reading during Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1992 marked the first time an African-American woman had written and presented a poem during a presidential inauguration.(AP: Gerald Herbert)

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto – the Senate sponsor of legislation ordering the Mint to issue women honoring quarters – applauded the Mint’s selection of Angelou for the first coin.

“This play will allow generations of Americans to discover the books and poetry of Maya Angelou that speak to the lived experience of black women,” she said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the country’s first female Treasury Secretary, said: “Every time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country… I am very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions from some of America’s most notable. women, including Maya Angelou. “

Shortly after taking office a year ago, the Biden administration announced that it planned to replace the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the $ 20 bill with abolitionist Harriet Tubman, a leader of the Path of underground iron.

Mr. Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, had nearly 100 enslaved people.

However, since that announcement, the administration has not provided any further details on its plans regarding their timeline.

ABC / PA

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