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Black Quarters Coins: 8 Unique Quarter Coins Featuring African Americans

The term “Quarter” refers to a quarter of $1 which is normally worth 25 cents in the United States. The quarter coins were first introduced in the country in 1796, but consistent production of these coins began in 1831.

These coins feature George Washington’s image on their obverse, but after 1998, the U.S. Mint started changing the design on the reverse side of the coins. The new designs were unique as some of them helped the country remember important events, like the Civil War and the slavery era.

Other designs honored various famous individuals who helped shape our society including various black individuals.

To help you understand the phrase “black quarter coins” we decided to elaborate more on the following quarters produced by the U.S. Mint.

1. Bessie Coleman Quarters

This quarter is actually the 6th coin produced under the American Women’s Quarter Program to celebrate Coleman. She was the 1st black and Native American pilot who was denied admission to all the American flying schools. This forced her to learn French and relocate to Le Crotoy France in 1920 to Caudron Brothers’ Aviation School. She became the 1st black to get an international piloting license.

2. Maya Angelou Quarters

The Maya Angelou Quarter was the 1st coin released under the American Women Quarter Program. This coin, which was released in 2022, celebrates Maya, a popular civil rights activist.

The coin was designed by Damastra Emily who claimed that her depiction of Maya conveys how passionately she lived. The flying bird silhouetting her arms symbolizes Maya’s autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

3. NJ State Quarter Featuring Black Slaves on the Reverse

The U.S. Mint produced the NJ State Quarter as the 3rd coin under their 50-State Quarter Program.  They released this quarter on May 17, 1999, with the obverse side featuring George Washington. The reverse has a symbol of General Washington and his troop which included black slaves rowing a boat.

4. The Missouri State Quarter Features Louis and Clark with York, Their Slave

Released in 2003, the Missouri State Quarter is the 24th coin released under their 50-State Quarters Program. The coin is themed “Corps of Discovery” and it features Clark and Lewis’s sailing back to St. Louis. The design shows them on a boat with York, their slave rowing a boat.

5. The D.C. Quarter Commemorates Duke Ellington

The D.C. quarter is the 1st coin under their U.S. Territories and D.C. Quarter Program.

The coin was designed by a committee formed by Mayor Fenty Adrian. After deliberating for several days, the committee settled on 3 coins featuring exceptional figures from different generations including Duke Ellington, Frederick Douglass, and Benjamin Banneker.

The 3 options were presented to the district in 2008 and the public picked Duke Ellington’s design. The reverse also includes the District of Columbia’s Motto “Justice for All” and the year the coins were minted.

6. Frederick Douglass Historic Site Quarters

D.C. may have not picked Douglass in 2008, but they did include his image on the Quarter in 2017. The coin features Frederick Douglass’ home which became an historic Site in 1962.

This coin celebrates Douglass’ legacy as a statesman, author, civil rights advocate, and abolitionist.

He lived in the house between 1877 and 1895. The coin’s design depicts him seated and writing something on his desk.

Black Quarter Coins to be released in the Future

Under the American Women Quarter Program, the U.S. Mint announced that they will produce 5 designs between 2022 and 2025. Basically, they will introduce 20 unique coins honoring some of the renowned figures in American history.

A huge percentage of the women featured in these quarters were from the ethnic minority groups in the country. This includes the following black women who will feature in the 2025 designs:

7. Ida Bell Wells-Barnett

Ida was one of the early Civil Rights Movement’s leaders and a known investigative journalist.

Wells helped establish the NAACP and dedicated her life to fighting violence and prejudice while advocating for black equality, particularly for women.

Ida used her talents as a journalist to demonstrate the real truth behind violence against blacks while advocating for it to stop. She exposed the brutality of lynching while explaining that the whites used it to terrorize the blacks.

8. Althea Neale Gibson

Gibson was the 1st black woman to win the Grand Slam event in 1956. She was also the 1st black athlete to overcome racial segregation in international tennis.

Bob Ryland has even described her as the greatest tennis player of all time. Her achievements as a tennis player earned her the right to feature in the black quarter coins to be released in 2025.

Kenyalogue Contributor


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