The late poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou lived a rich and celebrated life due to her influential works and service to the world. Long immortalized in the annals of the written word, Angelou’s likeness will be featured on a U.S. quarter, making her the first Black woman to be featured on the coin.
Angelou, who passed at the age of 86 in 2014, is the first featured figure for the American Women Quarters Program, which aims to feature several women from varying fields on the currency.
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The United States Mint (Mint) has begun shipping the first coins in the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program. These circulating quarters honoring Maya Angelou are manufactured at the Mint facilities in Philadelphia and Denver. Coins featuring additional honorees will begin shipping later this year and through 2025.
“It is my honor to present our Nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” said Mint Deputy Director Ventris C. Gibson. “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.”
Angelou came to worldwide notoriety by way of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and she published a number of books that span poetry, songs, fiction, and non-fiction, with over two dozen bestselling releases among them. Angelou blazed trails in 1992 by becoming the first Black woman to write and present a poem at a presidential inauguration during President Bill Clinton’s swearing-in ceremony. In 2010, Angelou received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
Reactions to the news this week of the new coin cropped up on Twitter and we’ve got a few of those responses below.