The new wave of black women immortalized in American culture

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Acclaimed poet and writer Maya Angelou became the first black woman to have her likeness on a quarter after the U.S. Mint released the newly minted coin on January 10.

The Maya Angelou play is the first in a series of quarters to be released over the next few years. The American Women Quarters program, which will be released five quarters a year through 2025, was created to recognize and honor the contributions of pioneering women throughout United States history, said Ventris C. Gibsondeputy director of the US Mint.

California Representative Barbara Lee, which introduced the bill that led to the creation of the coins, has been advocating for more diversity of representation on U.S. currency for years. The legislation, Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act, was passed in January 2021.

The neighborhood is one of many recent efforts to increase the representation of black women in American culture. Mattel has released a Barbie doll representing a journalist and activist Ida B Wells January 17, the latest addition to its “Inspiring Women” series, while the Treasury Department plans to issue a $20 note, featuring the abolitionist Harriet Tubman by 2030.

“I would say it’s groundbreaking…that individuals can look and see that it’s not just non-minority men on plays, but it really represents the American people,” said Gibson, who is the first Afro -American. run the US Mint.


Jeannie Michele Kopstein is a political journalist/video producer and graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, based in Washington, DC. She covers politics for the Medill News Service, focusing on long-form video projects exploring how government, politics and politics affect communities. She specializes in video reporting, documentary film and campaign communication.

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