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PAPER TRAILS: Angelou in noted faces on quarters

by Sean Clancy | May 23, 2021 at 3:36 a.m.


For the first time in oh, forever, a woman's image will appear on a quarter. And yes, there is an Arkansas connection.

In January, the U.S. Mint will issue quarters featuring the likenesses of author Maya Angelou and astronaut Sally Ride in its "American Women Quarters Program."

They will appear on the flip side of the two-bit pieces, with an updated version of George Washington on the front. The series will include up to 20 notable women from American history.

Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis. After her parents divorced, she moved with her older brother to Stamps, where their grandmother owned a grocery store, according to the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Angelou and her brother eventually moved with their mother to San Francisco, where she dropped out of high school and worked as the city's first Black cable car conductor.

She returned to school and studied dance, drama and music at San Francisco's Labor School. She and her son, Claude, relocated to New York City, where she became active in the Black creative community.

Her first book, the autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," was published in 1970. "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie," a collection of her poems, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1972.

In 1993, she read her poem "A Brave and Startling Truth" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. That same year, she was among the initial inductees of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

Angelou was also an actor. She received an Emmy nomination in 1977 for her role in the miniseries "Roots" and starred in Tyler Perry's "Medea's Family Reunion." She wrote a screenplay, "Georgia, Georgia," and directed the 1988 film "Down in the Delta."

She received the National Medal of the Arts in 2000 and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.

Angelou died on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, N.C.


Michael Stipe is best known as the frontman of beloved band R.E.M. Since the band's 2011 breakup, Stipe has pursued his passion for photography. His new, self-titled book of photos includes images of his famous friends like Tilda Swinton, Kirsten Dunst and director Gus Van Sant.

Among those pals is singer and White County native Beth Ditto.

Stipe snapped the black-and-white image of the former Gossip frontwoman at the London wedding of British fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu.

Ditto's most recent album is her 2017 solo debut, "Fake Sugar." She had a recurring role on the 2019 TV series "On Becoming a God in Central Florida," which stars Dunst and appeared in Van Sant's 2018 film "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot."

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