Her life may have ended in 2014, but Maya Angelou continues to make history. According to Complex, it was announced on Monday that the first coins in the American Women Quarters Program have entered circulation – one of which features the likeness of the late, influential and inspiring Black poet.
Coins honouring the Missouri-born woman are said to have been manufactured in Philadelphia and Denver. “It is my honour to present our Nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” U.S. Mint Deputy Director Ventris C. Gibson shared in a statement.
“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.”
Designed by Emily Damstra and sculpted by Craig A. Campbell, the tail side of the coin sees Angelou posing with her arms uplifted, a bird and a rising sun behind her. A mint representative has said that the depiction is “meant to be emblematic of both [her] work as a poet and the way she lived.”
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Angelou appearing on the U.S. coin – after her death at the age of 86 in 2014 – makes her the first Black woman to achieve such a feat, as pointed out by Representative Barbara Lee, and countless others.
“The phenomenal women who shaped American history have gone unrecognized for too long – especially women of colour. Proud to have led this bill to honour their legacies,” she tweeted on Monday morning.
Others set to appear on forthcoming quarters include Dr. Sally Ride, Anna May Wong, Wilma Mankiller, and Nina Otero-Warren; see what Maya Angelou’s coin looks like in the posts below.