In Case You Missed It, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D-Nev.) bipartisan, bicameral legislation to create a new series of commemorative circulating coins highlighting remarkable American women was officially enacted this week with the production of U.S. quarters honoring Maya Angelou.
In 2019, Senator Cortez Masto introduced legislation with Senator Deb Fisher (R-Neb.) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) authorizing a series of quarters to be minted in honor of women’s history and suffrage. It was signed into law in 2020. This will be the first currency series in American history to feature women so prominently. Beginning in 2022, and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint will issue up to five new designs honoring American each year.
The United States Mint said Monday it has begun shipping quarters featuring the image of 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, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, the Senate sponsor of legislation directing the mint to issue the quarters honoring women, applauded the Mint’s selection of Angelou for the first coin.
“This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women,” she said in a statement.
Last year, the Mint announced it would be including several notable figures in its American Women Quarters Program, including Angelou; Chinese American film star Anna May Wong; the first U.S. woman in space, Sally Ride; and Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to be elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
The program was established through the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, which required that five prominent American women be recognized on quarters every year between 2022 and 2025.
“Maya Angelou’s writing and activism inspired countless Americans and her legacy helped fuel greater fairness and understanding across our nation,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), a sponsor of the redesign bill, said in a statement.
“She is exactly the type of leader I had in mind when Senator Fischer, Representative Lee and I wrote our bipartisan legislation to create a series of quarters honoring the contributions of American women,” Cortez Masto said. “This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women.”
Maya Angelou has become the first Black woman to be featured on a US quarter, according to the US Mint.
Coins features Angelou — the celebrated American writer, social activist and author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — with her arms spread open and are being shipped out now, according to the Mint.
Angelou’s quarter makes her not only the first Black woman on a quarter, but the first woman to kick off the US Mint’s American Women Quarters Program that launches in 2022.
Angelou is “exactly the type of leader I had in mind when Senator Fischer, Representative Lee, and I wrote our bipartisan legislation to create a series of quarters honoring the contributions of American women, said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Senate sponsor of 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,” she continued.