By: Alexis Cope
Since 1999, the United States Mint has released large sets of themed quarters with commemorative tails sides depicting many aspects of America. Released annually in sets of five, several years group together under one common theme. From 1999-2008, fifty quarters were released, each engraved with icons of every state. In 2009, the US territories were honored. Most recently (2010-2021), the national parks of every state and territory were illustrated.
Now, from 2022 through to 2025, influential American women will be portrayed as the reverse of Washington. The women on the 2022 set of quarters were recently announced, including four women of color; previously, Sacagewea was the only woman of color on any U.S. currency.
Celebrated for her books I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and And I Still Rise — among many others — writer, poet, and civil rights activist Angelou is depicted with her arms outstretched in front of a soaring bird and rising sun.
Physicist, educator, first American woman in space and third woman worldwide, Sally Ride will be shown opposite a space shuttle window overlooking Earth and the United States. This choice was inspired by what Ride said she would do in her free time: “…when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.”
In 1985, Mankiller became the first woman elected to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. During her 10 year tenure in the position, the population of the Cherokee Nation more than doubled. Mankiller was also an influential activist for Native Americans and women’s rights. On her quarter, Mankiller wears a traditional shawl and the words “Cherokee Nation” are written in Cherokee syllabary.
An influential leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement, particularly among Hispanic women, Otero-Warren was also extremely passionate about education. In 1917, she became the first woman to be appointed superintendent of Santa Fe’s public schools. She was also the first Hispanic woman to run for U.S. Congress. Otero-Warren will be shown with three yucca flowers, the state flower of New Mexico, as well as the slogan “VOTO PARA LA MUJER” (VOTES FOR WOMEN).
Anna May Wong
As the first Chinese-American to become a Hollywood movie star and receive international recognition, Wong broke many barriers for women and women of color in popular culture at the time. She starred in many films of note including Shanghai Express, Piccadilly, and The Thief of Baghdad. Wong is portrayed with her name literally in lights, as marquee lights surround both her and her name.