Release of the first American coins bearing the image of Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, an African-American poet and activist, has officially joined a select group of Americans to be listed on US government currency, US authorities announced on Monday.

Angelou, author of I know why the caged bird singswill be the first figure commemorated under the American Women Quarters program, which was enacted in January 2021.

The U.S. Mint “has begun shipping the first coins” featuring Angelou’s likeness on the U.S. quarter, a 25-cent coin, according to a news release from the agency.

“I am honored to present our nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” said Ventris Gibson, Deputy Director of the US Mint.

“Each quarter of 2022 is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of achievement 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. “

The program directs the United States Mint to issue quarters each year between 2022 and 2025 featuring five different female pioneers who have contributed to the country.

The neighborhood has, for the past 90 years, featured the nation’s first president, George Washington, on one side, and an eagle on the other.

The new neighborhoods — which were hit in Philadelphia and Denver — show Washington on one side and Angelou on the other.

Others to receive this honor in 2022 are: Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first female Principal Chief; Nina Otero-Warren, a New Mexico suffrage leader and Anna May Wong, a Chinese-American movie star.

Angelou, born in Missouri in 1928, was a well-known essayist and poet who worked with Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X during the American Civil Rights Movement.

Angelou, who delivered the poem at former US President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993, died in 2014.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also signaled her support for recognizing former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the US currency.

Former US President Barack Obama launched a project to put Tubman’s face on the $20 bill, but it stalled under Donald Trump’s administration. Putting Tubman, a black woman who escaped slavery and became a leader of the pre-Civil War abolitionist movement, on the $20 bill would be an “honor,” but banknote design takes time, Yellen said in September.

Scroll through our gallery below to learn more about Maya Angelou over the years.

Updated: January 11, 2022, 11:19 a.m.

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