Amanda Gorman hails new US coin as Maya Angelou becomes first black woman on quarter

Credit: AP

The poet who wowed the world at Joe Biden's inauguration, Amanda Gorman, has welcomed the recognition of her predecessor and role model Maya Angelou as the first Black woman to be depicted on a US quarter.

The coins depicting poet Angelou have been produced as part of the American Women Quarters Programme at the Mint facilities in Philadelphia and Denver.

Ms Gorman said: "I’ve never been more excited to get a quarter,” she said.

Angelou, an American author, poet and Civil Rights activist, rose to prominence with the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

The recipient of more than 30 honorary degrees, Angelou read On the Pulse of Morning at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton. 

Angelou was only the second poet in history to read a poem at a presidential inauguration, she the first African American person and first woman to do so when she recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" in 1993.

Angelous died in 2014 at the age of 86.

Gorman would make history herself last year when she became the youngest inaugural poet in history, after reciting her original poem, The Hill We Climb at age 22 on Capitol Hill in January 2021.

She honoured the legacy of her predecessor with a little help from Oprah Winfrey, who gifted her earrings for the big day.

Winfrey also told her she had bought the coat and gloves that Angelou wore for her inaugural recital.

She also wore a ring with a caged bird, to symbolise Angelou’s groundbreaking autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Gorman has credited this for inspiring her in her struggle with a speech impediment growing up.

"I was like 'I'm a Black girl with a speech impediment and no one thought it was relevant to tell me that this great orator that I'm reading had a similar struggle?” she told Oprah Winfrey.

"Being able to connect with her and relate with that was a real beacon for me in my life." 

Angelou’s published works of verse, non-fiction, and fiction include more than 30 bestselling titles. Her remarkable career encompasses dance, theatre, journalism, and social activism.  

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