The Interfaith Peace Project continues its ongoing observance of the International Women’s Day, March 8, by sending out a reflection on the eighth of every month. We invite you share in this effort by sending any articles or information concerning the voice of women that you would like to share to:
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P
THE AMERICAN WOMEN QUARTERS PROGRAM
Continuing to Honor International Women’s Day
The American Women Quarters Program is a four-year program celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women in the history of our country. The program was authorized by the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Barbara Lee and Anthony Gonzalez.
The U.S. Mint will issue up to five new designs each year with a woman on one side and Laura Gardin Fraser’s portrait of George Washington on the other side. (This is the same picture that was used in 1999 for the George Washington half eagle on the 200th anniversary of his death.)
The quarters to be released in 2022, feature Maya Angelou, Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Manskiller, Adelina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong. For 2023, we will see Bessie Coleman, Jovita Idar, Edith Kanaka’ole, Eleanor Roosevelt and Maria Tallchief.
The Maya Angelou United States Mint Quarter is the first coin published in the American Women Quarters Program. Maya Angelou was an influential writer and social justice advocate and activist. Her work spoke to the dignity of the enslaved people who built America. Maya’s voice will continue to be the voice of women who stand up for what is right, just, true, and beautiful. Consider her poem “Caged Bird”:
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
Born in St. Louis, MO, on April 4, 1928, her family eventually settled in Oakland, CA. Maya became the first woman streetcar conductor in San Francisco. She endured assault and abuse only to become a source of inspiration and encouragement to hurting, persecuted, and displaced people.
The genius of her literary work is summed up in this morsel of wisdom from her book; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya had the courage to proclaim the stories within her, inviting us to follow in her footsteps by claiming our own personal dignity as human persons.
In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. asked Mya to organize a march. Dr. King was assassinated before it took place. In response to the assassination, she wrote, produced, and narrated “Black, Blues, Black” a ten-part series of documentaries depicting the connection between Blues Music and Black Americans’ African heritage for National Educational Television.
She was the first African American woman to write and recite her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Clinton in 1992. Her words continue to bless us today:
Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, President Barak Obama remarked, “Out of a youth marked by pain and injustice, Dr. Maya Angelou rose with an unbending determination to fight for civil rights and inspire every one of us to recognize and embrace the possibility and potential we each hold. With her soaring poetry, towering prose, and mastery of a range of art forms, Dr. Angelou has spoken to the conscience of our nation. Her soul-stirring words have taught us how to reach across division and honor the beauty of our world.”
Maya Angelou died at age 86 on May 28, 2014.
We are a better people because of the courage, wisdom, and example of Maya Angelou, who humbly said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
As things begin to return to a new normal, we at The Interfaith Peace Project are here for you in any way that you need us. The Antioch Center is now open to fully vaccinated people on Wednesdays, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. We are vigilant and will adjust to any and all recommendations from the state and county. We will continue our work through Zoom as we add in person programs. If you would like to schedule an in person or Zoom program or would like a phone appointment with any of us, give us a call. You may call or email Tom at: