Early last year, Congress passed the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020 [PDF], which approved the creation of a new set of collectible quarters featuring trailblazing women from American history.
The coins will start circulating in January 2022, and the U.S. Mint has already chosen the first two women to appear on the “tails” side (the “heads” side will still depict George Washington). One is astronaut Sally Ride, who became the first American woman in space in June 1983. The other is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings author Maya Angelou, who gave voice to institutionally marginalized and silenced Black Americans through her poems, memoirs, and other work. Angelou also has a few “firsts” to her name; she was the first Black woman to conduct a cable car in San Francisco, and she was also the first Black person and first woman to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration.
For the rest of the forthcoming quarters, however, the reverse sides remain blank, and the U.S. Mint wants you to weigh in on whom to honor next. The only hard-and-fast rule is that only women who are no longer living can be chosen, so Dolly Parton isn’t a valid suggestion. Apart from that caveat, any American woman who you think has made an indelible impact on history—for her work in suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, the arts, or any other sphere—is fair game.
The secretary of the Treasury (currently Janet Yellen, the first woman in the position) will decide which women to feature after discussing the options with representatives from the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, the National Women’s History Museum, and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus.
The U.S. Mint will debut a fresh collection of quarters every year through 2025, and each collection can include up to five different women. If you have thoughts on who deserves the distinction, you can submit them via this form.