Maya Angelou Becomes First Black Woman on a Quarter

By United States Mint

Maya Angelou was a celebrated writer, performer, and social activist.

She rose to international prominence as an author after the publication of her groundbreaking autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Angelou’s published works of verse, non-fiction, and fiction include more than 30 best-selling titles.

Angelou’s remarkable career encompassed 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.

Maya Angelou American Women Quarters Program

 

Angelou read “On the Pulse of Morning” at the 1992 inauguration of President Clinton, marking the first time an African American woman wrote and presented a poem at a presidential inauguration. She was also only the second poet in history to do so, following Robert Frost, who recited a poem at President Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

Angelou received more than 30 honorary degrees and was inducted into the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame for Writers. In 2010, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was also the 2013 recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award for contributions to the literary community.

The American Women Quarters Program is a four-year program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women to the development and history of our country. Beginning in 2022, and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint will issue up to five new designs each year. Each coin will maintain a likeness of George Washington, but is different from the design used during the previous quarter program. The Maya Angelou Quarter is the first coin in the American Women Quarters™ Program.

The American Women Quarters will 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.