WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States Mint on Monday announced that it has started shipping quarters featuring poet Maya Angelou, the first coins in its American Women Quarters program.
Angelou, an American author, poet and civil rights activist, rose to prominence with the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in 1969. Angelou, who died in 2014 at the age of 86, has was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama.
The neighborhood motif represents Angelou with outstretched arms. Behind her, a bird in flight and a rising sun, images inspired by her poetry.
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.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, the Senate sponsor of legislation directing 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 in a statement.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the country’s first female Treasury Secretary, said: “Every time we redefine our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country…. I am very proud that these pieces celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.
The Biden administration announced shortly after taking office a year ago that it planned to replace the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the $ 20 bill with abolitionist Harriet Tubman, an Underground Railroad executive. However, since that announcement, the administration has not provided any further details on its plans.
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