United States: the black poet Maya Angelou depicted on the 25 cent coins

Posted on Jan 11, 2022 8:43 AM

This is a first in the monetary history of the United States. The effigy of the African-American poet and activist Maya Angelou (1928-2014) appears on a new generation of “quarters”, the famous American 25-cent coins.

The first copies were minted in Philadelphia and Denver by the United States Mint and will soon be put into circulation. These are not collectibles but pieces that will be produced in large volumes, intended for everyday use.

A decision taken in 2020

This is the first time that an American coin or banknote that is not from a limited collector’s edition has depicted an African-American woman. Until now, the 25-cent coin, the most used in the United States, had only been entitled to a few rare alternative versions since 1932, the time to mint a series of 50 coins representing each of the American states, at the start. 2000s, and another national parks and sites, from 2010 to 2021.

Traditionally for 90 years, the coin features, on one side, a portrait of the first President of the United States, George Washington, and, on the other, an eagle. The new coin will retain the portrait of George Washington on one side and host that of Maya Angelou on the other. This piece is the result of the vote in Congress, at the end of 2020, of a bill by the elected Democrat of California Barbara Lee.

First in a series

“The phenomenal women who have shaped American history have been ignored for too long, especially women of color,” tweeted Congressman Marc Veasey, elected Democrat in the House of Representatives. “I am proud to have supported Barbara Lee’s text to pay tribute to them,” he added.

This new “quarter” is the first copy of a series called “Prominent American Women”, which will honor several illustrious women of various origins. Maya Angelou will be joined by astronaut and physicist Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, the first Native American woman to have held the head of the Cherokee Nation, politician and activist of Hispanic origin Nina Otero-Warren, and actress Anna May Wong, hailed as the first Hollywood star of Asian descent.

New banknotes in the boxes

The next step will be to print banknotes featuring iconic figures in the history of the United States. In 2017, the Obama administration announced that populist President Andrew Jackson would be replaced on $ 20 bills by black abolitionist figure Harriet Tubman. But the project was abandoned by Donald Trump during his tenure.

It was relaunched in early 2021, with the arrival of Joe Biden at the White House. “It is important that our tickets, our money […] reflect the history and diversity of our country, and the image of Harriet Tubman adorning the new 20 dollar bill clearly reflects them, ”said Jen Psaki, White House spokesperson in January from last year. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen confirmed in September that the change was well timed, without giving a timeline.

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