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Remembering Maya Angelou on the quarter

By Tammy Newman Feb. 16, 2022

Positioned in front of a rising sun, Maya Angelou’s arms are lifted behind her, mirroring a bird in flight. Taken from Angelou’s poetry, these symbols are etched on cupronickel as part of the American Women Quarters Program, a new initiative introduced by the U.S. Mint to recognize five notable women for their contributions to American culture.

Consequently, Angelou, an American civil rights activist and award-winning author, will be the first Black woman to ever be featured on the quarter.

Best known for her 1969 memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Angelou often reflected on her experiences with racism while growing up in the deep South in her writing.

She received many honors for her career, including two NAACP Image Awards and a Grammy Award for her poem “On the Pulse of Morning.” Aside from Angelou, the program also plans on releasing designs for women such as Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero and Anna May Wong.

Spotlighting women of color, the program received a positive response from the public: The news of Angelou’s appearance on the quarter began trending on Twitter, with Congresswoman Barbara Lee commenting that women of color have gone unrecognized for far too long. Wong, for example, is a Chinese American Hollywood movie star and the first Asian American actress to receive international recognition. In the center of the quarter’s design, she rests her chin on her hand, surrounded by the lights of a marquee sign.

Previously, the U.S. had plans to honor the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment by replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. However, the change has yet to occur, due to controversy surrounding whether it is what Tubman would have wanted for herself—some claim Tubman would not have wanted her face on the money of the country that hurt her people. According to ABC News, however, President Biden is planning on speeding up the effort to put Tubman on the $20.

“The new American Women Quarters program is a shifting point in history where we are finally uplifting women through public recognition. As a woman, this is important to me, because I feel like our efforts are noticed,” Junior Jayna Forman says.

Desiree Vu De Leon Art

Angelou making her way onto the quarter is a remarkable stepping stone toward gender equality. Plenty of women—Jane Addams, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Emily Dickinson and Angela Davis—have made significant impacts in history, but have not received recognition due to a history of sexism and racism in the U.S. With lifted arms, women are finally welcoming equal recognition through making an appearance on U.S. currency.


About the Contributors

Tammy Newman

Staff Writer

Tammy Newman is a junior at Leland High School and a Staff Writer for Journalism. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family as well as reading and writing.

Desiree Vu De Leon


Desiree is a high schooler at Leland High School and contributes to The Charger Account. She has a large variety of hobbies from bird watching to collecting pressed pennies.

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