Mint’s American Women Quarters Program Strives to Give Influential Women of America the Recognition They Deserve

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Kendall Dexter, Staff Writer

What is Mint’s American Women Quarters Program?

Mint’s American Women Quarters Program is a four-year program celebrating the accomplishments of women who contributed to the history and development of the United States. The women featured on these quarters have significantly influenced the culture and societies of the country we all know today. Not often is it that these female figures of importance are recognized for their achievements. This set of quarters is meant to acknowledge each individual woman and share their accomplishments. These quarters will be issued beginning in 2022, continuing through 2025. Each year, the U.S. Mint will design and issue up to five quarters.

 

Who will be on these quarters? 

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, actress, and memoirist. She wrote multiple editions of autobiographies that transformed many societies’ views on racial, economic, and sexual injustices. As her autobiographies explored these themes of oppression, she achieved many rewards both tangible and intangible. 

Angelou’s most well know autobiographical work is titled, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” This work of literature is a personal representation of Maya Angelou’s experiences and hardships throughout her life. This autobiography furthers Angelou’s influence on racism, sexual assault, and other important themes of oppression. Another example of Angelou’s influence is demonstrated by the Tony Award which she was nominated for. This award was in honor of her performance in the theatrical production, “Look Away” (1963). Additionally, Maya Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” during the presidential inauguration of 1993, allowing Angelou to become the second poet to read a poem at one of these traditional events. This becomes significant in today’s world as our most recent presidential inauguration featured the significantly influential writing of a young Black woman, Amanda Gorman. This demonstrates the idea that Angelou’s participation in the presidential inauguration of 1993 facilitated the influence of poets to come. Through Maya Angelou’s hard work, she was able to make great accomplishments throughout her lifetime and stamp her mark on society to be valued for the rest of United States history.

 

Dr. Sally Ride

Dr. Sally Ride was the first American woman and acknowledged LGBTQ+ astronaut in space. Although Ride started as a passionate tennis player, she eventually decided to attend college and pursue degrees in English as well as physics. This led to Ride’s selection by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She was one of six female candidates. After completing a Ph.D. in astrophysics and finishing NASA training programs, Ride was eligible to become a U.S. space shuttle mission specialist. In mid-June of 1983, Ride entered space, rocketing into orbit inside the shuttle orbiter Challenger. This shuttle mission lasted six days as Ride assisted in the deployment of two communications satellites and various experiments. Her second space mission would take place in October of 1984 with her childhood friend, Kathryn Sullivan. However, during preparation for her third mission, the Challenger exploded. This caused the suspension of shuttle flights for over two years. 

Ride resigned from NASA in 1987 and moved on to become a professor of physics at the University of California. She dedicated much of her time to initiating programs supporting science education, particularly for young girls who are not often encouraged to engage in mathematics or technology. In addition to this, Ride collaborated on a variety of children’s books about her experiences regarding space exploration. Dr. Sally Ride proves to be a significantly influential woman of America. Her inclusion in Mint’s American Women Quarters Program truly recognizes her impact on United States history. 

 

Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller was a Native American leader and activist and the first woman chief of a major tribe. Mankiller was of Dutch, Cherokee, and Irish descent. She became active in the Native American Rights movement in 1969 after her working as a social worker. She found herself passionate about issues of this sort. Mankiller then became an economic stimulus coordinator for the Cherokee Nation as well as completed a degree in social science. With this, Mankiller facilitated many projects meant to develop Cherokee communities in Oklahoma.

In 1983 Mankiller won an election, presuming her as deputy principal Cherokee chief. Then, in 1985, she succeeded him as principal chief, becoming the first woman to ever serve as a chief of a major Native American tribe. One of Mankiller’s most known accomplishments was the development of an administration focusing on lowering the unemployment rate and increasing opportunities for education. This would soon lead to the overall improvement of the community’s health and economy. In the 1990s, Mankiller was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. One of her most famous works, Mankiller a Chief and Her People, was published in 1983 and recognizes many of Wilma Mankiller’s influential contributions to various communities today.

 

Nina Otero-Warren

Nina Otero-Warren was the first Hispanic woman to run for U.S. Congress as well as a leader in New Mexico’s women’s suffrage movement. She became passionate about advocacy not only in English, but Spanish as well, allowing the suffrage movement to reach broadly across her area. Otero-Warren played a significantly influential role in ensuring the inclusion and representation of Hispanic people in society. 

In 1916 she was elected vice-chair of the New Mexican branch of the Congressional Union. This would soon become the National Woman’s Party. However, in 1917, the chair stepped down, making way for Otero-Warren to step up. She took over at the request of the NWP leader and served as chair of the New Mexico Republican State Committee’s women’s division as well as of the Legislative Committee of the New Mexico Federation of Women’s Clubs. With her new connections, Otero-Warren campaigned for women’s suffrage and the ratification of the 19th Amendment. She was successful in her attempts by February 21 of 1920. Aside from this, Otero-Warren defeated a male opponent in winning election and reelection into the position of superintendent of public schools in Santa Fe. She taught consistently about Hispanic culture and took pride in her heritage. Through all of these efforts, Nina Otero-Warren and her influence on society are both incredibly deserving of recognition by the American Women Quarters Program. 

 

Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American film star. She appeared in over sixty movies throughout her life which continue to influence society today. Wong’s family got their start after opening a laundry mat. As a child, Wong lived in a diverse neighborhood with other children in California. Although this may seem like a good thing, Wong and her sister were often teased because of their race. This caused the family to move to Chinatown where they were more welcomed. Soon enough, a film production moved to California. Intrigued, Wong began visiting film sets and movies. When she was only nine years old, she had decided that she wanted to become a movie star. 

Although Wong’s aspirations were fierce, she continued to be cast as supporting characters or typical “Asian characters.” As Anna May Wong had worked as an extra in many movies, she was looking for a more developed role. However, racism and discrimination prevented her from landing a major role. Only as Wong was more frequently cast in films was she taken more seriously as an actress. One of her most famous movies is titled, “Shanghai Express.” After the release of this film, Wong spent a year touring in China, returning to the United States in the 1950s. When she returned, she became the first Asian American to lead a US television show titled, “The Gallery of Madame LiuTsong. After her death in February of 1961, the Asian-American Arts Awards and the Asian Fashion Designers group was named after her. Anna May Wong continues to influence society with her legacy and permanent imprints on the film industry.

 

Wish to learn more about the program? Click the link below:

https://www.usmint.gov/learn/coin-and-medal-programs/american-women-quarters#:~:text=The%20American%20Women%20Quarters%20Program,new%20reverse%20designs%20each%20year