The following is an excerpt from an article by the United States Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications
The American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program is the first circulating coin program dedicated solely to celebrating American women. Representing diverse fields, accomplishments, ethnicities, and races, these pioneering women are brought together by one commonality: Their contributions were groundbreaking and left a lasting impact on our society. Collectively, the honorees have shaped our nation’s history throughout the centuries.
In 2022, the first year of the program, each honoree highlights the breadth and depth of accomplishments being honored in this coin program. Maya Angelou was a celebrated author and activist. Dr. Sally Ride was a physicist, astronaut, educator, and the first American woman in space. Wilma Mankiller was the first woman elected chief of the Cherokee Nation. Nina Otero-Warren was a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement. Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.
Take a look back at our 2022 AWQ honorees.
Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, performer, social activist, and teacher who rose to international prominence as an author after the publication of her groundbreaking autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
- Angelou’s remarkable career encompasses dance, theater, journalism, and social activism. She appeared in Broadway and off-Broadway plays, including Cabaret for Freedom, which she wrote with Godfrey Cambridge. She also lived and worked in Cairo and Ghana, first as the associate editor of The Arab Observer and then as features editor and writer for The Ghanaian Times.
- Angelou’s published works of verse, non-fiction, and fiction include more than 30 bestselling titles.
- Angelou received more than 30 honorary degrees and was inducted into the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame for Writers.
- Angelou read “On the Pulse of Morning” at the 1992 inauguration of President Clinton. Angelou’s reading marked the first time an African American woman wrote and presented a poem at a presidential inauguration. She was also only the second poet in history to do so.
- In 2010, President Obama awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award for contributions to the literary community.
The reverse design depicts Maya Angelou with her arms uplifted. Behind her are a bird in flight and a rising sun. It was designed by Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Emily Damstra and sculpted by U.S. Mint Medallic Artist Craig Campbell.
“Ultimately, I decided that showing her in an uplifting stance, gesturing expressively, would best convey the passionate way she lived. The bird in flight and the rising sun — imagery that she incorporated in her own writing — are also symbolic of the way she lived,” said Damstra.
Dr. Sally Ride
Dr. Sally Ride was a physicist, pioneer in space exploration, and leader in science education. The first American woman to soar into space, Ride captured the country’s imagination as a symbol of the ability of women to shatter barriers. Her historic flight represented just one aspect of a remarkable and multi-faceted life.
- When she blasted off aboard space shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, Ride became the first American woman — and, at 32, the youngest American — in space. During the six days of mission STS-7, she deployed and retrieved a satellite with the shuttle’s robotic arm.
- Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy began working together to write science books for young people. Their six books included The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth from Space, which won the American Institute of Physics’ Children’s Science Writing Award in 1995.
- Ride and O’Shaughnessy shared a concern about the lack of women in science and engineering careers. In 2001, they joined like-minded friends to found Sally Ride Science to inspire young people, especially girls, in science, technology, engineering, and math.
- Ride received many honors during her life, including induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, National Women’s Hall of Fame, and Aviation Hall of Fame. After her death, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, the Navy commissioned a state-of-the-art research vessel named for Ride. The R/V Sally Ride is operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. In 2018, the U.S. Postal Service honored Ride with a Forever Stamp.
The reverse design depicts Dr. Sally Ride next to a window on the space shuttle, inspired by her quote, “But when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.” It was designed by AIP Designer Elana Hagler and sculpted by Medallic Artist Phebe Hemphill. The inscription “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is intentionally positioned over the outline of the U.S., indicating that Ride was the first American woman in space.
“Dr. Ride had an opportunity to view our home, this planet, from a vantage point seen by so very few. All of human existence becomes contained in this marble, this coin, glowing in the vastness of space,” said Hagler. “An astronaut’s profession is so much about technical know-how, but it is also about courage, daring, and such rare moments of transcendent awe.”
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Jack Ogburn says
Will coin albums and coin folders manufacturers please get up-to-date with the coins today and past few years please! Thank you