When we buy something at the grocery store and the cashier gives us our change, we see two things on the quarters they give us. On one side, we see the face of George Washington. On the other, most quarters bear an eagle, a symbol of one of the 50 states, or an image of one of America’s stunning national parks.
But before 1999, all quarters looked more or less the same. The U.S. Mint had been using the same design for more than 60 years — President Washington on one side and a bald eagle on the other.
1999 was the first year of the 50 State Quarters Program, established by a bipartisan bill that called for a new set of 50 unique quarters. Each represented one of the 50 states, and they were put into circulation in the order that they joined the union. The quarters representing our states, Nebraska and Nevada, were minted back-to-back in 2006.
Putting women on our coins
There is no doubt that the nation’s first president deserves his place on our currency. But we agreed that the other side of our quarters should also reflect more of the great Americans, particularly the women, who have played a part in our history.
This is why we introduced the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act (CCCRA) in the Senate, which passed at the end of 2020 and became law earlier in January with support from both Democrats and Republicans.
The CCCRA calls for another set of quarters — one that puts our country’s most extraordinary women front and center.
The idea for this bill stems from the women’s suffrage movement and the 19th Amendment, whose 100th anniversary we celebrated last August. These past 100 years of suffrage would not have been possible without the work of so many courageous women, whose efforts paved the way for many more to make crucial contributions to the history of the United States. Many of these admirable women will appear on these quarters starting in 2022.
WOMEN OF THE CENTURY:A commemoration of the 19th Amendment
This will be the first currency series in American history to feature women so prominently. Up to five quarters a year will depict some of America’s most important female leaders, from the suffrage and civil rights movements to government and the arts.
Our bill also asks the Mint to issue a special quarter featuring a woman in 2026 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. This is no accident: Just as Thomas Jefferson’s eloquence set us on the path to liberty all those years ago, so too have these great women’s contributions brought us nearer to equality.
Turning point in history
And throughout the next four years ending in 2030, the Treasury Department will celebrate the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the 2028 Summer Olympics, both of which will be held in the United States. Because of this bill, the U.S. Mint will have the chance to produce 2028’s Olympic medals, something it has never done before.
The 50 State Quarter Program marked a turning point in history – the dawn of a new millennium – by making the states that form our country more visible. This decade, one where we have the first woman Vice President, marks another special moment: A chance to illuminate the female trailblazers of America’s past to inspire the women of the present and future. These coins will be a celebration of our great nation and the women whose accomplishments have gone too long without proper recognition.
More:Black Lives Matter founders, Rosa Parks and other civil rights activists among USA TODAY Women of the Century
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The Mint will select 2022’s famous women later this year. As female U.S. senators, our story would not have been possible without these women who came before us. We look forward to being reminded of their legacies every time we see their faces on a new quarter.
Women of the Century:USA TODAY 100