Maya Angelou To Become the First Black Woman On U.S. Quarter

Posted inCulturally-Related Design

Thanks to the U.S. Mint, we might start saying “man or woman” instead of the usual “heads or tails” from now on.

Last fall, the U.S. Mint officially unveiled the new designs for the quarters, not only featuring five significant leaders, changers, and doers but all women, too. 

Officially, the first of these five designs featuring Maya Angelou was finally released on Monday, January 10th. Not only is Angelou the first woman to be featured on a coin design to honor the American Women Quarters Program, a four-year program commemorating the triumphs made by women to the growth of our nation, but she’s also the first Black woman to be featured on the U.S. quarter. 

Designed by artist and illustrator Emily Damstra, Maya Angelou is poetically featured in a powerful stance, shadowed by a bird taking flight surrounded by brilliant sun rays. This piece found inspiration in Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an iconic coming-of-age story about growing up in the Jim Crow South.

While there are currently plans for five women to appear on the quarter in 2022—Maya Angelou, Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong—The American Women Quarters Program plans to honor other accomplished women for years to come. 

Interestingly, it’s significant to note that while, yes, women are making their way onto coins, the face of George Washington will still be on the flip side. The image depicted of the first president was designed by the early 20th distinguished female sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser, so at least we have a significant female contribution to the flip slide too. 

So, which are you choosing to win a coin toss now? Male or female?