In 2022, US quarters with the image of poet and writer Maya Angelou went into circulation, making her the first Black woman in the nation’s history to be featured on a coin.
Angelou’s quarter kicked off the US Mint’s American Women Quarters program, an initiative led by Democrat congresswoman Barbara Lee. Also in 2022, were quarters depicting the first female astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
On the quarter, Angelou is depicted with her arms lifted with the sun rising behind her, as though she were a bird in flight. The “heads” side of the coin portrays an image of George Washington. The US Mint revealed that the image of Angelou was “inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived.”
Angelou, who died in 2014, was the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a work about her own personal experiences with racial discrimination. The acclaimed writer wrote 36 books in total and was the recipient of more than 20 honorary degrees.
“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country—what we value, and how we’ve progressed about our country,” said US treasury secretary Janet Yellen. “I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.”