By Jenna Renaud
The U.S. Mint has announced that on Monday, Jan. 10 they began shipping quarters featuring poet Maya Angelou.
This quarter represents the first in the American Women Quarters Program. This Mint program will take place over four years and includes issuing five quarters a year to honor women in fields, including women’s suffrage, Civil Rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, and the arts.
Women to be featured in 2022 include physicist and first woman astronaut Sally Ride; Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; 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.
Women have previously been featured on coins, although never the quarter. In 2017 the Mint introduced a commemorative gold coin featuring Lady Liberty as a Black woman. Suffragist Susan B. Anthony was the first to be featured on a coin in circulation when silver dollars were released with her image in 1979. Other women featured on currency include writer and activist for the disabled Helen Keller and Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who helped Lewis and Clark across the plains.
Author, poet, and Civil Rights activist, Angelou rose to prominence with the publication of her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Although having passed away in 2014 at the age of 86, Angelou’s impact and writings live on.
The quarter design depicts Angelou with outstretched arms and was created by Emily Damstra, a designer, and Craig A. Campbell, a medallic artist. Behind her is a bird in flight and a rising sun. Both of these selected images are inspired by her poetry and the way she lived her life.
Below we have compiled a list of some of Maya Angelou’s most important and impactful pieces of work, all of which are available in Falvey’s collection:
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)
- The Complete Poetry (2015)
- Phenomenal Women: Four Poems Celebrating Women (1994)
- The Heart of a Women (1981)
- On the Pulse of Morning (1993)
- A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002)
Click here to find a full list of Falvey’s collection of Maya Angelou pieces and make sure you are on the lookout for these quarters over the next four years.
Jenna Renaud is a Graduate Assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a Graduate Student in the Communication Department.