Author-Poet Maya Angelou is first black woman to feature on U.S. quarter

On Monday, the U.S. mint announced that quarters featuring the writer-poet Maya Angelou are being shipped this week. The poet, author and activist is the first black woman to appear on a U.S. coin. The new quarter featuring Maya Angelou is the first one in the “American Women Quarters Program.” Prominent women in the nation’s history will be featured on coins as a part of this program.

The Maya Angelou quarter portrays the author-poet on the “tails” or reverse side of the coin. The sculptor is Craig Campbell, who is a medallic artist and the designer is Emily Damstra, who is part of the Artistic Infusion Program. Angelou’s arms are uplifted and there’s a bird in flight as well as a rising sun in the background behind her. The mint said that “her poetry and the symbolic way she lived” were the inspiration behind the design.

The “head” or obverse of the quarter continues to portray George Washington. This design of the president is by a female sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966) and was sculpted to mark the 200th birthday of George Washington. It was recommended to the mint in 1932. At that time, the mint had used a John Flanagan design to portray the president.

In 1969, Maya Angelou became extremely famous after she published autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” According to a report in the U.S. mint her published works including verse, non fiction and fiction comprised of more than 30 titles that were bestsellers.

In 2010, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the then President Barack Obama. In 2014, she passed away at the age of 86.

The other women who will be honored with coins in a four-year program include

first woman astronaut Sally Ride
popular Chinese actress Anna May Wong
first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation Wilma Mankiller
suffragist and politician Nina Otero-Warren.

The U.S. mint said that these coins would be shipped throughout the year and up to the end of 2025.

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Coin Image US Mint


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