The U.S. Mint has unveiled the highly anticipated Maya
Angelou Quarter. A celebrated writer, performer and social activist, Angelou
rose to international prominence as an author after the publication of her
groundbreaking autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
Angelou’s is the first coin in the American Women Quarters™ Program. She was a celebrated writer, performer and social activist. Her published works of verse, nonfiction and fiction include more than 30 bestselling titles.
Her remarkable career encompasses dance, theater, journalism and social activism. Angelou appeared in Broadway and off-Broadway plays, including “Cabaret for Freedom,” which she wrote with Godfrey Cambridge.
At the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Angelou served as northern coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1978, she was a National Book Award judge for biography and autobiography.
Angelou read “On the Pulse of Morning” at the 1992 inauguration of President Bill Clinton. Her reading marked the first time an African American woman wrote and presented a poem at a presidential inauguration. She was also only the second poet in history to do so, following Robert Frost, who recited a poem at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.
She received more than 30 honorary degrees and was inducted into the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame for Writers. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was also the 2013 recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award for contributions to the literary community.
Angelou is featured on the tails side of the quarter; the heads side includes a portrait of George Washington.
The quarter featuring Angelo’s likeness was created by Mint designer Emily Damstra and metallic artist Craig A. Campbell. The coin depicts Angelou with her arms uplifted, in front of a bird in flight and rays of sunlight streaking out from behind her. The images were both “inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived,” according to the Mint.
Angelou’s coin began shipping this week; it is the first in a series that will commemorate female pioneers in a variety of fields.
The American Women Quarters Program is a four-year effort in which the Mint will issue five quarters a year to honor women in fields including women’s suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science and the arts.
This year’s other honorees are Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, a Native American activist; Nina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.
Angelou died in 2014 at age 86.
To learn more about the Angelou’s coin, visit https://www.usmint.gov/coins/coin-medal-programs/american-women-quarters/maya-angelou.