The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee recently reviewed design candidates provided by the United States Mint for the commemorative coin to be issued next year to mark the semi-centennial of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The US Mint presented 15 different obverse and 10 different reverse design candidates for the upcoming silver dollar.
The design candidates had been previously reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts who made a recommendation for an obverse design depicting three people holding hands at a civil rights march intended to be symbolic of all marches that helped to galvanize the civil rights movement. For the reverse, the CFA had recommended a design featuring a graduation cap and tassel to represent the initial thrust of the movement to challenge the “separate but equal” doctrine. The CFA’s recommended obverse and reverse designs were also the preferences of the United Negro College Fund, who will be the beneficiary of surcharges raised from the coin program.
To start the CCAC’s discussion of the designs, Chairman Gary Marks called emphasis to the design requirements as stated in the authorizing legislation for the program, which indicate that the coins shall be emblematic of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its contribution to civil rights in America. As such, he sought designs that would commemorate the act itself as well as its contribution to the nation, “and that contribution is something that could not have happened prior to its enactment.” Although he acknowledged the importance of the protests depicted across many of the design candidates, he felt that they did not commemorate the act or its continuing contribution to the nation, as specified in the legislation.
Mr. Marks expressed his appreciation for obverse design #10, which depicts the March of Washington facing east inside a silhouette of the Liberty Bell with reverberating bands and the inscription “Let Freedom Ring” which is quoted repeatedly in Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He felt that the reverberating bell sent a powerful message about the how the Act truly made a difference that is reverberating through time. He liked the throng of people by the reflecting pool, which would have been Martin Luther King’s view from the Lincoln Memorial, and the rays beyond the Washington Monument, which represent the dawn of the bright day of justice as quoted by Dr. King in his speech.
From the reverse design candidates, Mr. Marks favored design #2, which depicts three flames intertwined to symbolize freedom of education, freedom to vote, and the freedom to control one’s destiny. The design was developed based on the quote by Dr. King, “They get the fire hose. They fail to realize that water can only put out physical fire. But water can never drown the fire of freedom.”
Several other members of the CCAC echoed Mr. Marks’ appreciation for obverse design #10, citing it as a beautiful design, which conveyed the intended theme in an symbolic manner, and reverse design #2, with suggestions that the cauldron should be enlarged or emphasized. Favorable comments or support were also expressed for obverse design #4 and #15 as well as reverse design #4, #8, #9, and #10.
In the end, votes for the design candidates were as follows:
|Obverse 1:||0 points||Obverse 6:||0 points||Obverse 11:||1 point|
|Obverse 2:||0 points||Obverse 7:||0 points||Obverse 12:||3 points|
|Obverse 3:||1 point||Obverse 8:||7 points||Obverse 13:||0 points|
|Obverse 4:||12 points||Obverse 9:||0 points||Obverse 14:||0 points|
|Obverse 5:||1 point||Obverse 10:||24 points||Obverse 15:||15 points|
|Reverse 1:||5 points||Reverse 6:||0 points|
|Reverse 2:||25 points||Reverse 7:||0 points|
|Reverse 3:||0 points||Reverse 8:||4 points|
|Reverse 4:||11 points||Reverse 9:||5 points|
|Reverse 5:||0 points||Reverse 10:||4 points|
Accordingly, the official recommendations of the CCAC were for obverse #10 and reverse #2. Motions were made and passed unanimously to made the lower inscription “In God We Trust” on the obverse curved rather than straight and to give the cauldron appearing on the reverse design a more pronounced presence within the design.
The complete set of 15 obverse and 10 reverse design candidates provided by the United States Mint for the 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Silver Dollar are shown below.
Obverse Design Candidates
Reverse Design Candidates
Jon in CT says
I endorse CCAC Chairman Gary Marks’ choice for the obverse – design #10. However, IMHO, the most important aspect of that legislation was the fact that a majority of both houses of Congress were able to agree on a Bill to present to President Lyndon Johnson, I, therefore, endorse reverse #6 which depicts a radiant Capitol.
Jon in CT says
It should be remembered that exactly 1 of the 20 Democrat Senators from the South voted for the Equal Rights Act. And only 7 of the 87 Democrat Representatives from the South voted for the Equal Rights Act. Lyndon Johnson did a marvelous job of reaching “across the aisle” to get this legislation passed. Congress should receive recognition.
Having seen the choices of both the CCAC and CFA, I have to concur with Gary Marks’ choice, they are indeed iconic and beautifully illustrate that historic summer. Jon @ CT you make a good point, but the purpose of this coin is not to politicize the polarizing and contentious issue 50 years years ago but to identify a seminal moment in humanity’s history in advancing another step in the quest of freedom for ALL Americans. Great choices, if this is the coin designs selected, I’ll be glad to a couple to my collection and give several as gifts as there are many people that remember the summer of 1963.
Two Cents says
If the Liberty Bell design is used, the reverberation effect would be ideally suited for the US Mint’s latest frosting technology. They could use the varying degrees of frosting to show the effect to an impressive level. Just for that alone, I would order a coin or two.
As for the other side, I prefer the outlined walkers with shadows or the intertwined hands. These designs are different from the usual realistic depictions, and they express the coin’s theme in a creative way.
geery dra says
So let me get this straight. The civil rights act was to eliminate discrimination based on color, and yet, the surcharges go to the United Negro College Fund that discriminates by giving money only to people who are black.
Jerry Diekmann says
The obverse that has been picked is by far the most thoughtful and inclusive of all the designs presented by the Mint. As for the reverse, none of them have much interest or symbolism. Why not include a rendition of LBJ signing the CRA into law while Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and some members of Congress watch the signing? IMO that would be much more fitting rembrance and honor all those who were instrumental in seeing this act become law, 100 years later than it should have been.
So here it is in early 2015; the sales of the Civil Rights coin was truly pathetic. Had the design been based on the recommendation of the CCAC, I think the sales would have been far, far better. It would have been a striking design and fully emblematic of the Civil Rights movement. Alas, we didn’t get that design and final sales of around 86,000 coins is the result.