The U.S. Mint has revealed the five new quarters that will feature trailblazing women in U.S. history, and the designs make a lot of “cents.”
The Mint will run up to five new coin designs each year between 2022 and 2025 as part of its American Women Quarters Program. And the first five coins rolling into circulation next year will feature Maya Angelou, Sally Ride, Anna May Wong, Wilma Mankiller and Nina Otero-Warren.
“These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture,” said United States Mint Acting Director Alison Doone in a statement. “Generations to come will look at coins bearing these designs and be reminded of what can be accomplished with vision, determination and a desire to improve opportunities for all.”
The U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program was made possible by legislation passed earlier this year. The coins will feature women who made strides in notable fields such as civil rights, suffrage, the arts, humanities, government, space and science. The selections also “honor women from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds,” the legislation states.
All five designs were created by artists from the United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program, and sculpted by United States Mint Medallic artists.
Angelou’s coin features a depiction of the poet and activist with her arms uplifted as a bird flies behind her, and with the sun in the background. The images are “inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived,” according to the U.S. Mint.
Maya Angelou’s coin.
Ride’s coin shows the first American woman to soar in space next to a window on a space shuttle, inspired by her quote, “But when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.”
Sally Ride’s coin.
Mankiller — the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and an activist for Native American and women’s rights — is featured on her coin wrapped in a traditional shawl, “with a resolute gaze to the future” and the wind at her back. The seven-pointed star of the Cherokee Nation is to her left, and “Cherokee Nation” appears in Cherokee syllabary on her coin.
Wilma Mankiller’s coin.
Otero-Warren was a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement, and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools. She’s featured along with three Yucca flowers, the state flower of New Mexico. The inscription “VOTO PARA LA MUJER” — the Spanish counterpart for the suffragist slogan “Votes for Women” — also appears on her coin.
Nina Otero-Warren’s coin.
Wong was the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, appearing in more than 60 films. Her coin shows a portrait of the actress with her head resting on her hand, surrounded by the bright lights of a marquee.
Anna May Wong’s coin.
All five quarters feature a portrait of George Washington sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser on the “heads” side of the coin, which was originally submitted for a 1932 quarter marking Washington’s 200th birthday, but was ultimately passed over.
The public had an opportunity earlier this year to submit recommendations for which women should be honored on the new quarters. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen oversaw the process and selection for the first five coins with the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, the National Women’s History Museum and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus.
In the meantime, efforts to get Civil War-era abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill have stalled somewhat. President Joe Biden’s administration has said it is “taking steps” to honor the women who led hundreds of slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad by getting her on the bill.