Last year, the US Mint announced that it would start creating quarters celebrating the accomplishments of women "who made significant contributions to the Nation". The first quarter, dedicated to author, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, entered circulation in January. Now, the second one has joined it in the pockets of Americans featuring pioneering astronaut Sally Ride.
Dr Sally Ride was the first American woman in space and the third woman overall. She joined NASA back in 1978 and went to space twice on the Space Shuttle missions, once in 1983 and again in 1984. She was in charge of operating the Shuttle's robotic arm, deploying satellites into space.
Ride died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer. She was survived by her partner Tam O'Shaughnessy, with whom she co-founded the education company Sally Ride Science. She was the first person who traveled to space known to have been part of the LGBTQ+ community.
The coin features on one side a portrait of George Washington by Laura Gardin Fraser. This was actually designed to mark George Washington’s 200th birthday, in 1932. The Sally Ride side was designed by Elana Hagler and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.
The coin went into circulation yesterday, March 21. The Angelou and Ride quarters are part of the US Mint's American Women Quarters Program, a four-year program to celebrate the accomplishments of women, which have often been overlooked in the Mint's 230-year tenure. The program will release five new reverse designs a year starting this year through 2025.
The two quarters released so far for 2022 bring the number of US denominations of coins accepted as legal tender that have women on them to five: the Sacagawea dollar, the Susan B. Anthony dollar, and the Helen Keller Alabama State Quarter make up the quintet.
The program has received over 11,000 recommendations for women to honor. The Mint has announced that the remaining three quarters to be released this year will feature Wilma Mankiller (first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation), Nina Otero-Warren (a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement) and the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood Anna May Wong.