For the first time in American history, people will be able to hold a piece of U.S. currency with the image of a Black woman—poet Maya Angelou—later this month.
According to the U.S. Mint, shipping of coins bearing an image of Angelou on the tails side and the traditional portrait of first U.S. President George Washington on the heads side had started as of Monday. These coins are part of the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program.
“Please consult with your local banks regarding availability of AWQ Program quarters honoring Maya Angelou in late January and early February,” said the Mint.
Limited quantities are available.
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Angelou was a poet, writer, performer, social activist, and teacher. She became internationally famous for her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and she published more than 30 bestselling titles. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Angelou was also the first African-American woman who wrote and presented a poem at a Presidential inauguration, for President Bill Clinton in 1992.
“Maya Angelou’s writing and activism inspired countless Americans and her legacy helped fuel greater fairness and understanding across our nation,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Senate sponsor of the AWQ bill.
Artist Emily Damstra designed the image of Angelou, which depicts her in front of a bird in flight and a raising sun with her arms raised. It was sculpted by artist Craig A. Campbell and was inspired by her poetry.
In addition to Angelou, four other women will appear on quarters in 2022: physicist and first woman astronaut Dr. Sally Ride; first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and Native-American activist Wilma Mankiller; New Mexico’s suffrage movement leader Nina Otero-Warren; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American film star.