It was announced back in October 2021, that Maya Angelou will be the first Black woman to be featured on a U.S quarter thanks to the American Women Quarters program and now they are being distributed. According to a news release, the U.S Mint has began shipping the out the first coins from the collection, which also includes coins that feature Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren and Anna May Wong.
“Maya Angelou’s writing and activism inspired countless Americans and her legacy helped fuel greater fairness and understanding across our nation,” Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Senate sponsor of the bill said in the news release. “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.”
Angelou’s quarter was designed by artist Emily Damstra of the United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program and sculpted by United States Mint Medallic Artist Craig A. Campbell. The St. Louis native will be featured on the tails side of the coin while George Washington remains on the heads side. The design is inspired by Angelou’s memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which is the first nonfiction book written by a Black women to become a best seller. In the image, Angelou is standing with her arms lifted with a bird with their wings spread behind her under the rays of the sun.
Five of these quarters will be produced each year from 2022 to 2025.
Angelou died on May 28, 2014 after dealing with heart-related ailments and declining health.