Despite her death in 2014, Maya Angelou still lives on through her work and memories. She has once again made history as the first black woman to feature on US currency. According to the US Mint, the new quarters featuring Angelou entered the market on Monday.
Maya is not only the first woman to feature in these coins but the first black person to do so. The quarter honors one of her works, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ autobiography. The 25 cent coin also known as a quarter features George Washington’s visage on the head side and Maya’s work depicted with open and outstretched arms and a flying bird and rising sun behind her on the tail side.
American Women Quarter Programme
These coins are as a result of the American Women Quarters Programme, a bill hailed by the US first female treasury secretary and signed into law last year. Besides Angelou, the Programme seeks to honor the first female US astronaut, Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, and Anna May Wong, a campaigner for indigenous rights, this year. The Programme also has plans to issue 20 more quarters in the coming years depicting other American women who played a significant role in America’s history.
Releasing the coin on Monday, US Mint Deputy Director, Ventris Gibson noted, “It is my honor to present our nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history. 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”.
Born in 1928 in Missouri Angelou rose to become one of the most renowned poets and essayists in America. In her career life she had a chance to dine and work with other renowned authors such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Maya is remembered as the first woman to present a poem during President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. It will also be remembered that Maya was among president Barack Obama’s list of honor in 2010 where he awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.