The United States Mint paid tribute to American writer and activist Maya Angelou, who became the first black woman to appear on the coin.
The coin is part of the American Women Quarters campaign, which also includes Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Chinese-American movie star, the US Mint said on Monday.
Angelou rose to international prominence after the publication of her groundbreaking autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, with her unflinching account of rape and racism in the segregation of the southern US. .
At age 7, Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, who was later beaten to death in an attack that some believed was carried out by her uncles. The trauma of the rape and the death of her attacker left Angelou speechless for six years. She began writing during this period in silence. She died in 2014, aged 86. The prolific African-American writer was known for her lyrical prose and regal voice.
“Each time we redesign our currency, we have a chance to say something about our country – what we value and how we progress as a society,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
“I am so proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.”
The activist was responsible for reading the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the 1993 inauguration of former President Bill Clinton. Angelou’s reading marked the first time an African-American woman had written and performed a poem at a presidential inauguration.
In 2010, then-President Barack Obama awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she received the 2013 Literarian Award, an honorary award from the National Book Award for contributions to the literary community.
The American Women Quarters program also features Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first female head chef, Adelina Otero-Warren, a leader of the New Mexico suffrage movement, and Sally Ride, an astronaut and physicist who was the first American woman in space.
Reference: CNN Brasil