(KRON) — Late poet Maya Angelou has become the first Black woman on a United States quarter.
It is the first to be released in the American Women Quarters Program.
KRON4 spoke with East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who led the effort to create the coins.
Soon you could be holding a historic coin in your hands.
The U.S. Mint began shipping the coins this week.
“I’m just excited because so many who have contributed to the building of this country, the public only sees the founding fathers, and now they’ll be able to see women, women of color, and our first coin is our beloved Dr. Maya Angelou,” Lee said.
Lee co-authored the bill to create the first American Women Quarters Program.
Angelou is the first of six women honorees whose coins will be in circulation through 2025.
She is pictured with her arms uplifted, with a bird in flight behind her.
San Francisco State University Professor of Africana Studies Dr. Dorothy Tsuruta interviewed Maya Angelou back in the 1980s.
“The way she’s depicted is so appropriate because she was a gatherer,” Tsuruta said. “She focused a lot on the Black community and connecting people.”
She says Angelou’s works are still pivotal in her classes.
“My students have followed her career and the pledge practically in the classroom is her poem ‘And Still I Rise,” Tsuruta.
In addition to being a legendary poet, Angelou was a performer, and civil rights activist.
She was also the first female African-American cable car conductor in San Francisco.
Lee says Angelou’s writing inspired countless Americans and fueled greater understanding across the nation.
She says honoring her on U.S. currency is a major milestone.
“I think it’s important we recognize this is a historic moment with a woman on a coin, but also use this get to know her, get to know who she was. Read ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,'” she said.
Maya Angelou quarters should be available at your local bank branch in the coming weeks.