New U.S. Coins Celebrate Trailblazing Women
The achievements of inspirational women spanning diverse fields and eras of American history will be celebrated in the designs of five new coins releasing between 2022 and 2025.
The American Women Quarters Program, proposed by the United States Mint and authorised by Congress, yielded a recently-unveiled series of reverse designs that highlight accomplishments in science, space, government, civil rights and the arts.
These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture.
The front of the new quarters will feature a portrait of George Washington by acclaimed 20th century sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser. Known for a wide range of works including medals, fountains and animal sculptures, Fraser became the first woman to design a coin for the U.S. Treasury in 1921 when her work appeared on the Alabama Centennial half-dollar.
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.
Maya Angelou—writer, performer and social activist—is depicted with her arms uplifted, standing before a bird in flight and the rays of a rising sun. The Mint says the images were ‘inspired by her poetry’ and are ‘symbolic of the way she lived.’ Among her many achievements, Angelou received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, held over 30 honorary degrees, published over 30 bestselling works, and in 1992 became the first Black woman and second-ever poet to write and present a poem at a presidential inauguration.
Sally Ride—astronaut, physicist and educator—is shown next to the window of a space shuttle in a design the Mint explains was inspired by her quote: “When I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.” Ride was the youngest-ever American and first American woman to travel into space, and subsequently dedicated herself to inspiring young people—especially girls—to pursue careers in STEM subjects. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the Aviation Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Wilma Mankiller—an activist for Native American and women’s rights, and the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation—is shown with the seven-pointed star of the Cherokee Nation, looking ahead with the wind at her back, wearing a traditional shawl. During her two terms in office, she tripled her tribe’s enrolment, doubled employment and built new housing, health centres and children’s programmes across northeast Oklahoma. The Mint notes ‘her leadership on social and financial issues made her tribe a national role model.’
Nina Otero-Warren—a leading suffragist and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe’s public schools—shows her looking directly ahead, hands clasped before her, alongside the words ‘Voto Para La Mujer’ (Vote for Women) and three yucca blossoms, New Mexico’s state flower. She championed lobbying efforts to ratify the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed the right of American women to vote, and highlighted the importance of speaking Spanish in the suffrage fight to reach Hispanic women.
Anna May Wong—Hollywood’s first Chinese American star, bringing Asian Americans into the public eye at a time when U.S. law discriminated against Chinese immigration and citizenship—shows her resting her head on her hand, surrounded by the bright lights of a marquee sign. Appearing in more than 60 movies, Wong became an enduring symbol in film and literature, and will be the first Asian American to appear on U.S. currency.