Writer and poet Maya Angelou and astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, are the first women who will appear on a series of quarters to be issued by the U.S. Mint over the next four years.
The United States Mint has announced that Maya Angelou and Sally Ride will be the first two women honored as part of the American Women Quarters Program, which will commemorate the accomplishments and contributions of 20 prominent woman in American history by putting them on the back of quarters, New York Times reports.
Check out a mock-up of the coins below.
The U.S. Mint will begin producing a new series of quarters designed to honor 20 famous women in American history. First up are poet Maya Angelou and astronaut Sally Ride. pic.twitter.com/10TfSSBBar
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Congresswoman Barbara Lee, of California, introduced the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, which aimed to recognize women in U.S. history who have long been overlooked and underappreciated.
“For too long, many of the women who have contributed to our country’s history have gone unrecognized, especially women of color,” Congresswoman Lee said. “I am pleased to see that the first women to be recognized under my bill are outstanding individuals in the fields of science and literature: Dr. Sally Ride and Dr. Maya Angelou. They paved the way for many who came after them and inspired young women to carry on their legacy.”
Angelou rose to prominence with her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which chronicles the early years of her life. Angelou received critical acclaim and newfound fame following the success of the autobiography that Time called one of the most influential books written in English since 1923. Caged Bird took on a whole new life after she recited the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993. She died in 2014 at the age of 86.
Ride famously applied to become an astronaut after seeing an advertisement in the Stanford student newspaper, the Stanford Daily. In 1983, she was aboard the Challenger, making her the youngest American in space at the time, along with the first American woman in space. The following year, Ride made a second trip to space, and while preparing for a third mission, the Challenger exploded in 1986. The next year, she resigned from NASA.
The first woman to be featured on a U.S. quarter was Queen Isabella of Spain in 1893, the NYT noted. She was featured on the coin for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
The new quarters featuring Ride and Angelou will begin going into circulation in January.