Maya Angelou Is First Black Woman To Be Featured On U.S. Quarter

The United States Mint announced that a new quarter featuring the late Maya Angelou entered circulation Monday, making the legendary poet and activist the first black woman to appear on the coin.

The Maya Angelou Quarter is the first coin in the American Women Quarters Program. Other coins in the series will begin rolling out later this year and through 2025, the Mint said in a statement Monday.

Maya Angelou was a celebrated writer, performer, and social activist. She rose to international prominence as an author after the publication of her groundbreaking autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Angelou’s published works of verse, non-fiction, and fiction include more than 30 bestselling titles.

“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country — what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. “I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.”

George Washington’s face will still be seen on one side of the quarter. On the “tails” side, Angelou is featured with her arms widened in front of an American eagle. Her pose is a nod to her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Ca) introduced the Circulating Collectible Coins Redesign Act of 2020, which was passed in January 2021 and allowed for the creation of these new coins.

“The phenomenal women who shaped American history have gone unrecognized for too long — especially women of color,” Lee said in a tweet. “Proud to have led this bill to honor their legacies.”

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