Beginning in early 2022, the U.S. Mint is honoring 20 inspiring women by featuring them on a series of new quarters as part of the American Women Quarters Program.
The first of the new quarters, which debut in January next year and will continue in circulation through 2025, will feature two trailblazing women: poet Maya Angelou and astronaut Dr. Sally Ride.
The reverse (tail) sides of the quarters will have designs showcasing the accomplishments and contributions of the women, while the heads of the quarters will continue to display a likeness of George Washington, though it will be designed differently to distinguish it from the current image.
The American Women Quarters Program is a four-year program, with the U.S. Mint issuing up to five new reverse designs each year. The public is invited to submit recommendations for women to be honored by filling out a form stating why a particular woman should be chosen.
The women selected can have played a role in a wide variety of fields including suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space and the arts. The women will all come from ethnically, racially and geographically diverse backgrounds.
This initiative is authorized by the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020 (Public Law 116-330), which also states that no living person may be featured on coin designs, so all of the women chosen to appear on the quarter must also be deceased.
While this is the first time Angelou and Ride will be featured on U.S. currency, both women have been featured on postage stamps in the past. And both women have been honored in recent years by Mattel, as the brand has included them in its Inspiring Women collection.
Ride, who was the first American woman to go into outer space and the first acknowledged gay astronaut, took off on a mission in 1983 aboard the Challenger space shuttle. The Sally Ride Barbie comes with a blue NASA spacesuit.
Angelou was a writer, actress and dancer, who received numerous awards and accolades, including more than 50 honorary doctorates and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was also the first African American and female poet to speak at a U.S. Presidential Inauguration.
The Barbie bearing her likeness is wearing a head wrap and floral-print dress, and comes with a miniature version of Angelou’s 1969 autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which made history as the first nonfiction bestseller by a Black woman.
Which other inspiring women would you like to see featured on the U.S. quarter?