Maya Angelou Becomes First Black Woman to Appear on Quarter — and You Can Get One Now!

The coin honoring the late poet and civil rights activist went into circulation Monday and pays tribute to her 1970 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou
Photo: United States Mint

Maya Angelou is making history once again.

The late prolific poet and civil rights activist, who died at the age of 86 in 2014, has become the first Black woman to be featured on the U.S. quarter.

The coin is paying tribute to the Black rights activist as part of the American Women Quarters Program, the United States Mint shared on its site Monday, adding that the bureau already started shipping the coin.

The U.S. Mint is honoring 20 trailblazing women on a new series of quarters, starting with Angelou and Dr. Sally Ride as part of the American Women Quarters Program.

Angelou and the NASA astronaut will be the first two women featured on the back of the coins, which are debuting in January and will continue in circulation through 2025.

During that period, additional coins featuring other honorees will go into circulation, the United States Mint added.

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"It is my honor 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, per the press release.

"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."

Angelou gained acclaim for her first book, the 1970 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

While the new coin still features George Washington on the heads side, Angelou appears on the tails side in a position that evokes the autobiography's title.

Sen. Deb Fischer and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto introduced congressional legislation to create the American Women Quarters Program. In a February USA Today opinion piece they wrote that "as female U.S. senators, our story would not have been possible without these women who came before us."

"We look forward to being reminded of their legacies every time we see their faces on a new quarter," they added.

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