Maya Angelou is the first black lady to be featured on a US quarter
Maya Angelou, the first black woman to be featured on a US quarter coin, has been produced by the United States Treasury.
Angelou, a poet and activist, was the first black woman to write and perform a poem at the inauguration of a president.
As part of the American Women Quarters programme, coins will be issued commemorating other pioneering women, such as an astronaut, a tribal chief, and an actress.
The country’s first female Treasury Secretary applauded the decision.
Angelou, a social activist and author, died in 2014 at the age of 86. Her groundbreaking autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, describing her life in the Deep South, catapulted her to stardom in 1969.
She was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and the author of over 30 best-selling books. President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States, in 2010.
The customary bust of George Washington, the country’s first president, is depicted on the front side of the quarter.
Over the next four years, the US Mint expects to release 20 more quarters showing notable American women who have played significant roles in the country’s history.
This year’s coins will honour Sally Ride, the first female US astronaut; Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief and an advocate for indigenous rights; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American film star in Hollywood.
Plans are still in the works to replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with black abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who saved enslaved people via the Underground Railroad.
Women have rarely appeared on US coinage in the past. The first US First Lady, Martha Washington, was featured on the $1 silver certificate in the 19th century, while Native American heroine Pocahontas was included in a group photograph on the $20 bill.
On the gold dollar coin, Sacagawea, a Native American explorer, is shown. Susan B. Anthony, a suffragist, and Helen Keller, a deaf-blind campaigner, were featured on the silver dollar and Alabama quarter, respectively.