The first US quarter to ever feature a black woman has officially went into circulation this past Monday: the coin honors Maya Angelou — with arms outstretched, a rising sun, and a flying bird behind her — for her extensive work in poetry and activism.
The US Mint created the American Women Quarters program and encouraged the American public to submit names of iconic women to be featured on a quarter of a US dollar. The Angelou quarter was the first in a series of many; upcoming quarters will include the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, and the physicist and first female astronaut, Dr Sally Ride.
“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country — what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society. I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou,” says US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen. Maya Angelou was the recipient of more than 20 honorary awards in her lifetime.