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Bessie Coleman, First Black Woman To Earn A Pilot's License, To Appear On 2023 U.S. Quarter

Bessie Coleman, First Black Woman To Earn A Pilot's License, To Appear On 2023 U.S. Quarter

The program will honor a group of women annually until 2025!

Bessie Coleman is now one of five trailblazing women set to appear on U.S. quarters next year, WCVB news reports. 

Earlier this year, we reported that iconic poet Maya Angelou had made history as the first Black woman to appear on the U.S. quarter. While the announcement came in 2021, the commemorative quarters were officially released this year. Angelou is depicted on the tail’s side of the coin in front of a bird in flight, a homage to her 1969 autobiography, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” 

Now the U.S. Mint has announced the second batch of women set to be featured on quarters as a part of its American Women Quarters Program. The trailblazing women set to be featured include journalist and activist Jovita Idár, Indigenous Hawaiian hula teacher Edith Kanaka’ole, Native American dancer and the first American prima ballerina Maria Tallchief, and pioneering pilot Bessie Coleman. 

Coleman was the first Black woman and first Native American woman to earn a pilot's license. She was rejected from U.S. aviation schools as a result of her race and gender, eventually learning French and traveling abroad so she could apply to aviation programs, obtaining her international pilot’s license in 1921. Coleman was known for her historic accomplishments as well as her fearlessness in the sky, where she performed loop-the-loops and figure-eights. Coleman was an advocate for other women and African Americans to get into the pilot industry, her commemorative coin paying tribute to her contributions. 

The 2023 honorees were selected by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen with the help of the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, the National Women’s History Museum, and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus. 

“The range of accomplishments and experiences of these extraordinary women speak to the contributions women have always made in the history of our country. I am proud that the Mint continues to connect America through coins by honoring these pioneering women and their groundbreaking contributions to our society,”  said Mint Deputy Director Ventris Gibson in a statement. 

The American Women Quarters Program will honor five women annually with five quarters each year until 2025. 

Photo Courtesy of Mitch Hemann/News 4 Jax