Maya Angelou to be one of first women featured on quarter

The incomparable poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, will be one of the first women to have their likenesses imprinted on the quarter.

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As part of a new program to honor history-making American women, Dr. Maya Angelou will be featured on a new edition of the quarter set to be issued in January 2022. 

The U.S. Mint has announced seven different designs in honor of Angelou’s contributions, ABC News reports. One portrays Angelou holding a cage in one hand and a blackbird in the other. Another design shows Angelou with her arms outstretched against a bird-shaped backdrop. 

Sample design of the new quarter featuring Maya Angelou. Photo credit: U.S. Mint

The priceless change in design comes from the U.S. Mint’s American Women’s Quarters Program. The legislation for the program was introduced by senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and passed in 2020 with bi-partisan support. 

“These past 100 years of suffrage would not have been possible without the work of so many courageous women, whose efforts paved the way for many more to make crucial contributions to the history of the United States,” Fischer and Cortez Masto wrote in USA Today in February. “Many of these admirable women will appear on these quarters starting in 2022.” 

Read More: Republicans vote against renaming post office after Maya Angelou, call her ‘communist sympathizer’

Maya Angelou reads “On The Pulse of Morning” at president Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993.

In 1969, Angelou’s seminal autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published and became the first nonfiction bestseller authored by a Black woman. In 1993 she delivered her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. Over her lifetime, Angelou wrote over 30 autobiographies, poetry collections, and children’s books. 

The incomparable poet and civil rights activist will be one of the first women to have their likenesses imprinted on the quarter, along with pioneering astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, who in 1983, became the first woman to go to space. Altogether, 20 women will be featured on the tails-side of quarter coins through the program.

George Washington will stay on the heads-side but with a new design. 

The U.S. Mint is currently asking for recommendations from the public for other women to be honored and people can make submissions using a form on its website. 

Read More: Oprah sets fan straight: she was granted permission to call Maya Angelou by her first name

“Contributions may come from a wide spectrum of fields including, but not limited to, suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. The women honored will come from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds,” the US Mint website reads.

Additionally, all of the women nominated must be deceased. Angelou passed away in 2014 at the age of 86. 

After collecting feedback from the public, the Smithsonian, the National Women’s History Museum, the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus, and US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen will determine the other honorees.  

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