By MARTIN CRUTSINGER AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States Mint on Monday announced that it has started shipping quarters featuring poet Maya Angelou, the first coins in its American Women Quarters program.
Angelou, American author, poet and civil rights activist, rose to prominence with the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in 1969. Angelou, died in 2014 at the age of 86, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama.
The neighborhood motif represents Angelou with outstretched arms. Behind her, a bird in flight and a rising sun, images inspired by her poetry.
Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928 in Saint-Louis. When her parents’ marriage ended, she and her brother lived in Arkansas for a few years, then later returned to St. Louis. At 8, she was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend, she wrote in “Caged Bird”.
The Mint’s program will release 20 quarters over the next four years, honoring women and their accomplishments in shaping the country’s history.
The other recipients in 2022 will be physicist and first female astronaut Sally Ride, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief chief of the Cherokee Nation. Nina Otero-Warren, leader of the suffrage movement in New Mexico and first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools, and Anna May Wong, first Chinese-American movie star in Hollywood will also be honored this year.