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Maya Angelou becomes first Black woman to appear on the U.S. quarter

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Dwight Carter

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The United States Mint rolled out the first U.S. quarters honoring poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, the first coins in its American Women Quarters Program.

The commemorative coin is the first of the American Women Quarters program, which will feature quarters honoring pioneering women in US history, the US Mint reported in a statement.

The quarter pays tribute to her 1970 iconic autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It will still feature the traditional face of George Washington on the “heads” side while the other side will have a design with Angelou’s arms stretched out and a bird in flight with a rising sun behind her.

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“This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women,” said Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D.)

The U.S. mint’s program will issue 20 quarters during the next four years honoring women and their achievements in shaping the nation’s history.

The first woman astronaut Sally Ride and the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation Wilma Mankiller are among the honorees of 2022. The remaining influential women being honored are Nina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools, and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.