Maya Angelou: She’s On The Money

It’s time to Break It Down!

In 2014, a 9-year-old girl wrote then-President Obama a letter suggesting that Harriet Tubman’s likeness adorn the $20 bill. In 2016, The President warmed to the idea and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the Government would release a “final concept design” for the bill in 2020. However, after a change in administrations, subsequently, in May of 2019, Trump Administration Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced that the new design would not be unveiled until 2028. Many of the initial reports suggested that the delay was precipitated by Mnuchin slow playing the process. Upon further inquiry, several Obama era officials have stated the 2020 date was unrealistic, and that the timing for release of the new bills remains on schedule.

Meanwhile, this week, the United States Mint announced it has begun shipping quarters featuring the image of poet Maya Angelou, the first coins in its American Women Quarters Program.

Angelou was born, Marguerite Annie Johnson, April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, but became a North Carolina transplant, where she resided in Winston-Salem until her death. She was an author, poet, and Civil Rights activist. Her initial rise to prominence was fueled by the success of the publication, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in 1969. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou, who died in 2014 at the age of 86 (May 28), was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

The coin which depicts Ms. Angelou’s likeness has a design that shows Angelou with outstretched arms. In the background, there appears a bird in flight and s rising sun, images inspired by her poetry. The new mint program will issue 19 more quarters over the next four years, including 4 more this year; all honoring women and their achievements in shaping our American History.

Future 2022 honorees include physicist and first woman astronaut, Sally Ride, first female principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and first female Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools, Nina Otero-Warren, and the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong.

Senator Catherine Cortez Mastro, D-Nevada, the Senate sponsor of the legislation directing the Mint to issue the quarters honoring women, applauded the Mint’s selection of Angelou for the first coin. She said:

“This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women.”

It’s a long way from the $20 bill to a quarter. That’s a gap worthy of a blog, in and of itself. But not today. There’s too much else worthy of investing energy on…like President Biden’s voting bills…but I digress. This post is about a deserving author, poet, and civil rights activist. “Maya Angelou: She’s On The Money!”

I’m done; holla back! 

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