Hooray! Last month, civil rights activist Maya Angelou and astronaut Sally Ride were selected to become the first women to be featured on the United States’ quarter as a part of the American Women Quarters program.
The US Mint announced this program in order to honor the accomplishments of notable American women who were trailblazers in fields including civil rights, humanities, science, the arts, space, and government. They also promised that the women honored will come from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds”. The US Mint will release the quarters between 2022 and 2025. Angelou and Ride’s quarters will be circulated in 2022.
Angelou was one of the most influential and significant figures of the 20th century. She was a journalist, civil-rights activist, memoirist, and poet. She worked closely with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement. Angelou is also very well known for her memoir I Know Why the caged Bird Sings, which became a New York Times best-seller. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.
Ride is best known as the first American woman in space after flying on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. She graduated from Stanford University in 1973 with degrees in physics and English. She then pursued research in astrophysics and later applied to NASA. She was one of the six women that were accepted into astronaut training that year. Ride returned to space twice that next year, logging over 343 hours in space between the two missions. She has long been outspoken regarding the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. Ride was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
“I wanted to make sure that women would be honored, and their images and names be lifted up on our coins. I mean, it’s outrageous that we haven’t,” Representative Barbara Lee said to 19th News. Lee is co-sponsor of the Collectible Coin Redesign Act that approved the redesign.
Janet Yellen, the Treasury Secretary, will decide the rest of the honorees with consult from the National Women’s History Museum, the Smithsonian Institution American Women’s History Initiative, and the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus. However, the public is welcome to submit recommendations for future honorees to the National Women’s History Museum through this link: https://forms.gle/3BgR3BLbFfJ69XdYA.
Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash.