A historic moment come year 2022 will go down in the history books as renowned writer and poet Maya Angelou and astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, will be amongst the first women to appear on a series of quarters to be issued by the U.S. Mint over the next four years.
Each woman will be honored on the tails, side of the US Quarters set for circulation in January as part of the American Women Quarters Program. The heads side of the coin will feature a new design of George Washington, according to reports.
Reacting to the honours, Dr. Ride’s partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, said in a statement that she “would be so moved by this great honor,” adding that “this tribute reflects Sally’s legacy not only as a trailblazing astronaut but also as a champion of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.” Dr. Sally Ride died in 2012 aged 61.
Tennis champ Billie Jean King stated that the announcement was “a richly deserved honor for both.”
The programme was introduced into legislation in the Senate by Senator Deb Fischer and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and passed through the House by Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
“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.”
Ms. Angelou died at 86 in 2014. The coin series will feature 20 women, with the honour being part of the US Mint’s American Women Quarters Program.
“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.”
Ms. Angelou who recited a poem at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.