The U.S. Mint is changing up the face of the quarter. Titled the American Women Quarters Program, the U.S. mint will be releasing 5 quarters, depicting American women each year through 2025. These quarters celebrate “the accomplishments and contributions made by women to the development and history of our country.”
Additionally, “The American Women Quarters may feature contributions from a variety of fields, including, but not limited to, suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. The women honored will be from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds.”
Release of the First Quarter
The first quarter of this program has just been released by the U.S. Mint. The quarter celebrates the life and work of writer, performer, and activist Maya Angelou, whose published works include more than 30 bestselling titles.
In the introduction for the Angelou quarter, the U.S. Mint writes, “Angelou’s remarkable career encompasses dance, theater, journalism, and social activism. She appeared in Broadway and off-Broadway plays, including ‘Cabaret for Freedom,’ which she wrote with Godfrey Cambridge. At the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she served as northern coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1978, she was a National Book Award judge for biography and autobiography.”
In 2022, four other distinguished women will join Angelou on the face of the quarter.
Dr. Sally Ride, was the first American woman in space, and was a physicist, astronaut, and educator. “When she blasted off aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, Ride became the first American woman – and, at 32, the youngest American – in space. During the six days of mission STS-7, she deployed and retrieved a satellite with the shuttle’s robotic arm. Her second shuttle flight, STS-41G, made history as the first space mission with two female crew members.”
Wilma Mankiller, a prolific activist for Native American and women’s rights, was also the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. “Mankiller was elected chief in 1987, and four years later, re-elected in a landslide. She tripled her tribe’s enrollment, doubled employment, and built new housing, health centers, and children’s programs in northeast Oklahoma. Under her leadership, infant mortality declined and educational levels rose. Her leadership on social and financial issues made her tribe a national role model. After leaving office in 1995, she remained a strong voice worldwide for social justice, native people, and women.”
Nina Otero-Warren ranked among the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement in New Mexico and was also the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools.
Otero-Warren was strongly involved in improving education for students in New Mexico, especially those members of the state’s Hispanic and Native American communities. She worked diligently to preserve the cultural practices of these communities.
Anna May Wong
The last of the women chosen to grace the quarter in 2022 is Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American Hollywood film star. She appeared in more than 60 movies throughout her long career, which included silent films, television, and theatre. She achieved all of this during a time of great racism and discrimination in Hollywood and beyond.
It remains to be seen who will be chosen for the 2023 release of women’s quarters. However, they surely will represent a diverse, accomplished, and distinguished group of women.