Maya Angelou Honored on New U.S. Quarters

The U.S. Mint has announced on Monday (Jan. 10) that quarters honoring famed poet, author and activist Maya Angelou have begun to be shipped, making her the first Black woman to appear on the coin.

As reported by Essence, Angelou (who passed away in 2014) is one of four notable women to be featured on the coins, as part of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program, which will ship through 2025. Other honorees include Sally Ride (first female astronaut in space), Anna May Wong (pioneering Asian film actress), Wilma Mankiller (activist and first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation), and Nina Otero-Warren (author, educator, and Women’s Suffrage activist).

In a statement, Mint Deputy Director Ventris C. Gibson said, “It is my honor to present our Nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history. Each 2022 quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of accomplishments being celebrated throughout this historic coin program. Maya Angelou, featured on the reverse of this first coin in the series, used words to inspire and uplift.”

Sen.Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) and House Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California), spoke of Angelou’s inclusion in the press release. “Maya Angelou’s writing and activism inspired countless Americans and her legacy helped fuel greater fairness and understanding across our nation. 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. This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women.”

Rep. Lee added: “As a leader in the civil rights movement, poet laureate, college professor, Broadway actress, dancer, and the first female African American cable car conductor in San Francisco, Maya Angelou’s brilliance and artistry inspired generations of Americans. I am proud to have led this effort to honor these phenomenal women, who more often than not are overlooked in our country’s telling of history. If you find yourself holding a Maya Angelou quarter, may you be reminded of her words, ‘be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.’”