COLUMN: Influential American women to be featured on US coins

Destiny Blanchard

Destiny Blanchard

Destiny Blanchard, Columnist

Maya Angelou, Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong are the women who will appear on the first five coins of the American Women Quarters Program created by the US Mint. The US Mint is our countries manufacturer of legal tender and coinage. The American Women Quarters program is a four year project that release 5 new quarters over the next four years, starting in 2022 and finishing in 2025. The honoring of these women with this symbolic gesture is a wonderful way to preserve their memory, especially because each of them have influenced American history and culture in an iconic way. It’s also great to see that there is a group of women that represent multiple ethnicities and cultures that are in this country.

The quarters were designed by multiple artists and sculptors, doing a wonderful job of representing who each woman was. Famously celebrated writer and activist Maya Angelou’s coin represents her autobiography titled, “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” The coin shows Angelou with her arms outstretched with a bird and rising sun behind her. The coin honoring Dr. Sally Ride depicts the physicist and astronaut next to a window on a space shuttle, with Earth in the background. Dr. Ride was the first American Woman to go to space.

The next coin honors Wilma Mankiller, who was the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee nation, along with being an activist for Native American and women’s rights. Her coin shows her gazing forward, wrapped in a traditional shawl with the star of the Cherokee nation to her side. The fourth coin honors Nina Otero-Warren, who was a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintended of Santa Fe public schools. Otero-Warren’s coin shows her image along with 3 individual Yucca flowers, which are the New Mexico state flowers. The fifth coin honors the legacy of Anna May Wong, who was the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood. Her coin design shows a close up image of Wong surrounded by the lights of a marquee sign.

Each coin also has an inscriptions that state, “E Pluibus Unum,” a Latin phrase meaning “One from many.” This statement refers to Americas determination to form a single country from our collection of states. There are also inscriptions that state each woman’s name or a reference that symbolizes her identity or life’s work.

The decisions for which American women would appear on these coins were made by the US Mint, along with help from the National Women’s History Museum and the American public. The Museum asked for submissions from the public for the program, with the only requirements being that the Women being deceased. All of the women who have been chosen were picked from many who are known from their work in civil rights, contribution to arts or sciences, and other significant acts.

Destiny Blanchard is a senior management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]