Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) applauded the United States Mint for beginning shipments of the first coins in the American Women’s Quarters (AWQ) program, beginning with the Maya Angelou Quarter on Monday.
The Mint implemented the new four-year program authorized by the Circulating Collector Coins Overhaul Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation introduced by Congresswoman Lee with Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and the Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Deb Fischer. (R-NE), which was enacted last year.
These outstanding quarters honoring Maya Angelou are made at the Mint’s facilities in Philadelphia and Denver. Coins featuring additional winners will begin shipping later this year and through 2025.
“As a leader of the civil rights movement, poet laureate, college professor, Broadway actress, dancer, and the first African-American cable car conductor in San Francisco, Maya Angelou’s brilliance and artistry inspired generations of Americans,” Lee said. “I will forever cherish the private moments I had the privilege of sharing with Maya, from talking in her living room as sisters to her invaluable guidance throughout the challenges I faced as an elective black woman. . I am proud to have led this effort to honor these phenomenal women, who are most often forgotten in the narrative of our country’s history.
“If you find yourself holding a Maya Angelou neighborhood, remembering her words, ‘Be certain that you will not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.'”
“Maya Angelou’s writings and activism have inspired countless Americans, and her legacy has helped build fairness and understanding in our country,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), project sponsor. bill in the Senate.
“She is exactly the type of leader I had in mind when Senator Fischer, Representative Lee and I drafted our bipartisan legislation to create a series of neighborhoods honoring the contributions of American women. This play will allow generations of Americans to experience the books and poetry of Maya Angelou that speak to the lived experience of black women.
“The Maya Angelou neighborhood will play a historic role in starting the conversation about our nation’s history that we may never have had before,” said Rosie Rios, 43.rd United States Treasurer. “Our currency and currency institutionalize our history, but to date too many women have been overlooked, from classrooms to boardrooms. Maya represents courage, advocacy and, most importantly, the voice of so many people who are still speechless today.
“She is the first of 20 women to be honored during these quarters as we count down to the 250th anniversary of our nation’s founding in 2026,” Rios continued. “It will no longer be HIStory or HERstory, but Our Story. I want to especially thank Congresswoman Barbara Lee for her tireless support in making my dream of redesigning our nation’s coinage and currency a reality. Let the conversation begin.
“I am honored to present our nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” said Mint Deputy Director Ventris C. Gibson. “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. “
A writer, poet, performer, social activist and teacher, Angelou rose to international prominence as an author after the publication of her groundbreaking autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
Angelou’s published works in verse, non-fiction and fiction include over 30 bestselling titles. Her notable career encompasses dance, theatre, journalism and social activism. The recipient of more than 30 honorary degrees, Angelou read “On the Pulse of Morning” during the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1992.
Angelou’s reading marked the first time an African-American woman has written and presented a poem at a presidential inauguration. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was the 2013 recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award for her contributions to the literary community.
The reverse (tails), designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Emily Damstra and sculpted by American artist Craig A. Campbell, depicts Maya Angelou with arms raised. Behind her, a bird in flight and a rising sun, images inspired by her poetry and symbolic of her way of life. The inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, “MAYA ANGELOU”, “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “QUARTER DOLLAR”.
The obverse (heads) depicts a portrait of George Washington originally composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser to mark George Washington’s 200th birthday. Although his work was a recommended design for the 1932 quarter, then-Treasury Secretary Mellon ultimately chose John Flanagan’s familiar design. Of Fraser, assistant manager Gibson said, “I am proud that George Washington’s new obverse design is one of the most prolific sculptors of the early 20th century. Laura Gardin Fraser was the first woman to design a US commemorative coin, and her work is praised in numismatic and artistic circles. Ninety years after wanting it to do so, its obverse design will rightly take its place on the quarter.
The inscriptions are “LIBERTY”, “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “2022”. The obverse design is common to all quarters issued in the series.
Authorized by Public Law 116-330the American Women Quarters program features pieces with inverted designs (tails) emblematic of the achievements and contributions of pioneering American women.
Beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the Mint will issue five quarters in each of these years. The ethnically, racially and geographically diverse group of individuals honored under this program reflects a wide range of achievements and fields, including suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space and the arts.
Additional honorees in 2022 are physicist and first female astronaut, Dr. Sally Ride; Wilma Mankiller, the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and an activist for Native American and women’s rights; Nina Otero-Warren, leader of the New Mexico suffrage movement and first female superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star in Hollywood, who achieved international success despite racism and discrimination.
Please check with your local banks regarding the availability of AWQ program terms honoring Maya Angelou in late January and early February.