Maya Angelou became the second poet in history to recite a poem at the inauguration, reading “In the Pulse of the Morning” when Bill Clinton was first sworn in as president in 1993. She will now go down in history again as one of 20 outstanding women to be honored by the US Mint to appear in a number of quarters starting next year.
Pioneer astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to be launched into space on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983, will also be featured on this coin. Angelou and Ride will be featured on the flip side, or tail, starting January 2022 as part of the American Women Quarters series, led by Project Manager Michelle Thompson.
“This is a huge deal, the American Women’s Quarters program provides an opportunity to engage women in coin handling,” Thompson told Dane Jacobson to CBS This Morning. “Their legacy, their achievements – they will all be written down in pocket money for generations to come.”
The US Mint will oversee the design work, while Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will approve the nominees and the final design.
While the obverse, or “side of the head,” will continue to depict the image of George Washington, it will be reformed to distinguish new coins, with several options being considered.
The remaining 18 laureates, which have yet to be announced, will come from a wide variety of fields, including the abolition of the death penalty, suffrage and civil rights movements, as well as the humanities, science and arts.
“We’re looking for a very wide and diverse group of women, because that’s what we have in America,” Thompson said. “And they are the kind of women who shaped our nation.”