The quarter series will run from 2022 until 2025
The likenesses of Maya Angelou and Sally Ride will soon be featured on the tails side of a series of US quarters.
Beginning in January 2022, the poet and the astronaut will be on the first of a series of quarters to feature prominent women as part of the US Mint’s American Women Quarters Program.
The programme was introduced into legislation in the Senate by Senator Deb Fischer and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. It was passed through the House by Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
The coin series will feature 20 women, and will run through 2025.
“Contributions may come from a wide spectrum of fields including, but not limited to, suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts,” the U.S. Mint said in a statement. “The women honored will come from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds.”
All the women featured on the coins must be deceased.
Ms Angelou, a nationally acclaimed poet and literary figure and Ms Ride, who was the first American woman in space, are among the first to be selected for the series.
The public is allowed to submit suggestions, but the final decision on who will make it onto the coins will come from US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative.
“For too long, many of the women who have contributed to our country’s history have gone unrecognized, especially women of color,” Ms Lee said in a statement. “[Angelou and Ride] paved the way for many who came after them and inspired young women to carry on their legacy. Our goal in working on this legislation was to honor phenomenal women like Dr Maya Angelou and Dr Sally Ride. I’m glad they are among the first of many to be recognized.”
Another proposal to place a woman on American currency was stalled under the Trump administration.
Since 2016 there has been an effort to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 with famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman. However, that effort was stalled under then-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The effort has been renewed under the Bide administration.
Though Ms Ride and Ms Angelou will be the first to be featured in the new series of quarters, they are not the first women to appear on American currency.
Susan B Anthony, Queen Isabella of Spain and Sacagawea have all been featured on US currency in the past.