The Secretary of the United States Treasury states that the appearance of a writer and a campaigner for civil rights coin represents ‘what we value, and how we develop as a society.
Maya Angelou became the first black woman to appear in the United States after a coin containing a picture of a deceased poet and activist was released on Monday.
The quarter has a picture of Angelou raising his arms, a flying bird, and the rising sun behind him, with a picture of George Washington on the “heads” side. The US Mint said Angelou’s image was “inspired by his poetry and a symbol of his way of life”.
The poet and author, who died in 2014, is the author of the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in which he wrote about the racism he faced as a child. The author of 36 books – and received more than 20 honorary degrees – read his poem On the Pulse of the Morning at Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1992, and was awarded the 2010 Presidential Freedom Award by Barack Obama.
“Every time we redefine our currency, we have the opportunity to say something about our country – what we value, and how we have developed as a society. I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some great American women, including Maya Angelou, “said Janet Yellen, US secretary of state.
Angelou quarter is the first in a series of US Mint’s American Women Quarters, which will feature physicist and first female astronomer Dr. Sally Ride and Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee Nation’s first female principal, later this year. The American public has been invited to submit the names of unique women to the program following a bill tabled by Democratic Alliance Congress member Barbara Lee.
“I will forever cherish the private moments I have had the privilege of sharing with Maya, from speaking in her living room as a sister to her invaluable advice during the challenges I faced as a black woman in a chosen office,” Lee said. “I am proud to lead this effort to honor these wonderful women, who are often overlooked in our country’s history. If you find yourself in the company of a quarter of Maya Angelou, may you be reminded of her words, ‘be sure you do not die without doing something wonderful for humanity.’”