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Friday, Dec. 1
The Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices

Black Voices: Maya Angelou becomes the first Black woman to be featured on the quarter


A new quarter featuring Maya Angelou, writer, poet, social activist and teacher, could be in the public’s hands by Sunday. Angelou is the first Black woman to be featured on the quarter. 

Over her 50-year career, she published more than 30 bestselling books which include fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She also starred in plays, movies, and television shows. Her autobiography was published in 1969 and recounts her traumatic childhood. 

Angelou has over 50 honorary degrees. She’s also recited her work at many events, becoming the first African American and woman to read a poem at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993. 

The Maya Angelou quarter is the first coin to be released in the American Woman Quarters Program. This four-year program commemorates women in history who have contributed to the development of the United States. Beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint will release five quarters each year. 

When choosing leaders for the program, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Sen. Deb Fischer, and California Rep. Barbara Lee wanted a series of American women who will inspire future generations.

The women featured in the program come from various backgrounds, but all have contributed to the science, civil rights, government, arts or suffrage movements. Dr. Sally Ride and Nina-Otero-Warren are two of the five women who will be featured on the new quarters this year. 

Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. She co-founded Sally Ride Science, a nonprofit built to inspire young people who are interested in a career in STEM and promote STEM literacy. Nina Otero Warren was the first female superintendent of the Santa Fe public school system and was a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement. She strived to improve education for children in New Mexico and worked to advance bicultural education in the school systems.

Representation is such an important thing in the world today, and these coins will bring more attention to these prominent figures.

The new coin will still have George Washington on the head side. The other side will display Angelou’s autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” one of her most famous pieces.  On the quarter, Angelou is shown with a bird in flight and a rising sun, both images reflecting her poetry. 

“Maya Angelou’s writing and activism inspired countless Americans and her legacy helped fuel greater fairness and understanding across our nation,” said Nevada Senator Masto in a press release

So, the next time you need to go to the bank, be on the lookout for Maya Angelou.

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