Famous author and noted civil rights leader Maya Angelou became the first African American woman featured on the 25-cent coin.
The U.S. Mint began shipping the quarters on January 10. Reportedly, the Angelou coin is the first in a series designed to celebrate the accomplishments of American women.
“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,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in a statement. “I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.”
Angelou, whose works include such classics as “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “And Still I Rise,” and “The Heart of a Woman,” died in 2014. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama.
The commemorative new coin features Angelou with her arms uplifted a bird in flight and a rising sun behind her. “They are images inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived,” officials at the U.S. Mint said in the statement.
To the right are the words “e pluribus Unum,” Latin for “out of many, one,” a phrase also on the national seal.
The flip side features a portrait of George Washington.
“Excited to announce that Maya Angelou becomes the first Black woman to appear on a U.S. quarter,” California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee wrote on Twitter.
“The phenomenal women who shaped American history have gone unrecognized for too long—especially women of color,” Rep. Lee wrote. “Proud to have led this bill to honor their legacies.”
Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent