The American Women Quarters Program is a U.S. Mint initiative to celebrate and honor the accomplishments and contributions made by women in the United States. This is a four-year program that began last year, in 2022, and will continue through 2025. But, what does all of this really mean? Well, the U.S. Mint started issuing new editions of the Washington Quarter, each featuring one of the aforementioned women.
The goal of the program is to spread awareness and indirectly educated people about these amazing women and everything they’ve done for the prosperity of their country. The American Quarters features women’s contributions from different fields, including civil rights, suffrage, government, science, space, and so much more. In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about the women featured in the 2022 Washington Quarter edition, and take a closer look at their accomplishments. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
The Women in 2022 Quarter
Without a single doubt, the women featured in the American Women Quarters are incredible, and their contributions are significant and groundbreaking. The women that we’re going to talk about in the following paragraphs have left a lasting impact on our society and shaped the nation’s economy, science, politics, education, and overall history. They serve as an inspiration to young people, especially women across the country and the globe. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at the American Women Quarters honorees;
Maya Angelou was the first woman to be featured on the AWQ 2022 quarter. She was born on April 4th, 1928 in St.Louis, and died on May 28th, 2014 in North Carolina. Maya Angelou was an American memoirist, popular poet, and civil rights activist. She has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several poetry books. Maya Angelou is also credited for her contribution to a list of plays, television shows, and movies throughout the 50 years of her active participation.
Among other accomplishments, Maya Angelou has received 50 honorary degrees and dozen of awards for her life achievements. She is currently best known for her autobiographies, the first one being I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Here’s an overview of Maya Angelou’s additional accomplishments and interesting facts from her life;
- Maya Angelou appeared in Broadway and off-Broadway plays, including ‘Cabaret for Freedom’. She wrote the play with Godfrey Cambridge.
- She was an avid dancer and took part in journalism, theatre, and social activism.
- Angelou has published more than 30 bestselling titles, including non-fiction, fiction, as well as poetry work.
- Maya Angelou read ‘On the Pulse of Mornin’ at the 1992 President Clinton inauguration, which made her the first African American woman to write and present a poem at a presidential inauguration; a moment of significant precedent.
- President Barack Obama awarded Maya Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.
- Maya Angelou was also the recipient of the Literarian Award, as well as an honorary recipient of the National Book Award for her overall contributions to the literary community.
- Maya Angelou’s quarter features an image of her, with her arms uplifted. In the background, there’s a bird in flight and a rising sun. The quarter was designed by the Artistic Infusion Program’s designer, Emily Damstra. The quarter was sculpted by the U.S. Mint medallic artist, Craig Campbell.
Dr. Sally Ride
The second woman featured on the 2022 quarter is Sally Ride. Dr. Ride was an astronaut, physicist, and educator in science. She was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1951 and died in 2012. Ride made history in 1983 when she became the first American woman in space. She went on to fly on another space mission in 1984 and served as a member of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident in 1986.
Dr. Ride was a pioneer for women in science and technology and inspired a new generation of young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. But, this was only one aspect of her incredible life and lifetime achievements. Let’s take a look at her other accomplishments;
- During Dr. Sally Ride’s six-day space shuttle Challenger space mission in 1983, she deployed and retrieved a satellite with the use of a shuttle’s robotic arm; a truly incredible moment in the history of the human race.
- Alongside Tam O’Shaughnessy, Dr. Sally Ride worked on science books intended for young people, to spark their interest in science and planetary exploration. They published six books, one of which is ‘The Third Planet: Exploring the Eart from Space’. For this specific book, Dr. Sally Ride and Tom O’Shaughnessy won the American Institute of Physic’s Children’s Science Writing Award, back in 1995.
- In 2001, Dr. Sally Ride and Tom O’Shaughnessy found Sally Ride Science, in the hope to inspire young women across the country to embark on science, technology, engineering, and math. The lack of women in science and technology was one of Dr. Ride’s biggest concerns, and she worked hard to change things for the better.
- During her remarkable life, Dr. Ride has received many honors, including induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, National Women’s Hall of Fame, as well as Aviation Hall of Fame. Dr. Sally Ride was also posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
- Dr. Sally Ride’s AWQ quarter features her sitting next to a window in a space shuttle, inspired by her quote ‘When I wasn’t working, I was usually at the window looking down at Earth.’ The quarter was designed by AIP designer Elana Hagler, and sculpted by Medallic artist, Phebe Hemphill.
The third woman featured on the 2022 quarter is Wilma Mankiller. Mankiller was a Cherokee activist and the first woman to be elected as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. She was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in 1945 and died in 2010. Mankiller was a strong advocate for Native American rights and worked to improve healthcare, education, and housing for her people. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 for her contributions to Native American communities. Among these, her accomplishment also comprises;
- Mankiller has founded the Community Development Department for the Cherokee Nation in 1977. During the administration of Principal Chief, Ross Swimmer, Mankiller led the creation of community water systems as well as rehabilitation houses.
- Wilma Mankiller was the first woman elected deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation, in 1983 (when Chief Swimmer named Mankiller his running mate, and they won). Mankiller also became the principal chief of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, after Swimmer left the Office.
- Mankiller was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993, as well as received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, back in 1998.
- Wilma Mankiller’s AWQ quarter depicts her, gazing into the future, with a seven-pointed star to her left side. The star represents the Cherokee Nation. The design was made by AIP designer Benjamin Sowards, and it was sculpted by Medalic artist Phebe Hemphill.
The fourth woman featured in the 2022 quarter is Nina Otero-Warren. Her full name is Maria Adelina Isabel Emilia ‘Nina’ Otero-Warren. She was an American woman’s suffragist, educator, and political figure. With her incredible work in education, public health, and politics, she has created a legacy for a generation of women.
Otero-Warren became the first female government official in New Mexico and was the first Latina woman to run for Congress. Nina Otero-Warren fought to improve education for all New Mexicans, including her efforts to advance bicultural education and preserve cultural practices among Hispanics living in the States. Here are her other accomplishments as well;
- Otero-Warren fought hard to shed light when it comes to the importance of Hispanic women speaking their native, Spanish language. Her efforts led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in New Mexico, which means women are granted the right to vote.
- As a leader of the New Mexico suffragist movement, Otero-Warren has advocated for intercultural education, making sure that the curriculum is taught in both English and Spanish. This required teachers to educate themselves regarding Spanish culture and language.
- In 1921, Otero-warren campaigned to be the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Party nominee, for New Mexico. She was also the first woman to run for Congress. Unfortunately, despite winning the Republican primary, she lost in the general election.
- Nina-Oterro’s AWQ quarter depicts her, flanked by three Yucca flowers (which are New Mexico’s state flowers). The AIP designer Chris Costello designed the reverse, while Medallic artist, Craig A. Campbell was the sculptor for this quarter.
Anna May Wong
The fifth and final woman featured on the 2022 quarter is Anna May Wong. Wong was an actress and the first Chinese American movie star. She was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1905 and died in 1961. Wong appeared in over 60 films during her career, but she often played stereotypical roles as an exotic, mysterious woman.
Despite this, Wong broke barriers for Asian American actors and paved the way for future generations to pursue careers in Hollywood. She has left a lasting legacy for all Asian American women in the States, especially when it comes to the entertainment industry, and here are some of her major achievements to prove that;
- Anna May Wong‘s first role in a movie was as an extra in the film ‘The Red Latnern’ in 1919. She was only 14 years old, but managed to land small roles in movies, until her breakthrough in 1922, when she landed her first leading role in the film ‘The Toll of the Sea’.
- In 1924, May Wong established her own production company, Anna May Wong Production. This made it possible for her to create movies about her own culture, including hiring actors of Asian descent.
- Unfortunately, despite all of her success, Anna May Wong was discriminated against so much, she had to leave for Europe. There, she worked in French, British, and German movies, like ‘Picadilly’ and ‘Pavement Butterfly’.
- Anna May Wong’s best movie is considered to be ‘Shangai Express’ from 1932, where she starred alongside Marlene Dietrich.
- Finally, May Wong returned to the States, where she became the first Asian American lead actress in the TV show ‘The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong’, in 1951. In 1960, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Anna May Wong’s AWQ quarter depicts her close-up image. Her hand is right under her head, in a very elegant position, while Anna is surrounded by the flashing lights of a marquee sign. The quarter was designed by AIP designer, Emily Damstra, and sculpted by Medallic artist John McGraw.
All of the women featured on the 2022 quarters made significant contributions to American society and culture, and their legacies continue to inspire people to this day.
Maya Angelou’s writing and activism challenged social norms and inspired people to speak out against injustice. Dr. Sally Ride’s achievements in space exploration broke down barriers for women in STEM fields. Wilma Mankiller’s advocacy for Native American rights improved the lives of countless people. Nina Otero-warren fought for Hispanic equality in the States and made Spanish culture and language a core part of the intercultural American identity. Anna May Wong’s success as an actress paved the way for future generations of Asian American actors.
However people choose to interpret women’s success throughout history, one cannot simply deny the fact that these women did the unimaginable; they fought and persevered despite all of the obstacles. They fought for their culture, their language, their passion for the written word, and their love for planet Earth. These are the accomplishments of some of the greatest people to ever exist, and the fact that these people are also women makes their accomplishments more impressive and worthy of recognition, which was successfully accomplished by the AWQ program.