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Anna May Wong Becomes First Asian American on the US Quarter

  • Anna May Wong will be the first Asian American to be on a US quarter.
  • The American Women Quarters Program is a four-year initiative that will feature five different women each year on the flip side of the coin. 
  • Among those being honored in 2022 and 2023 are Maya Angelou, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bessie Coleman, and Maria Tallchief. 

Heads up: The next US quarter will feature the first Asian American to appear on a circulating coin in the US. 

Starting on Monday, Chinese American movie star Anna May Wong will appear on the reverse side of the quarter, as part of the American Women Quarters Program.  Wong, who died in 1961, will be the fifth woman honored this year, following poet Maya Angelou, astronaut Sally Ride, Cherokee Nation leader Wilma Mankiller, and suffragist Nina Otero-Warren. Each of the special quarters features a right-facing portrait of George Washington on the front.  

The American Women Quarters Program is a four-year initiative, overseen by the United States Mint, that started in 2022. The quarters highlight women who have contributed to the development and history of the country through their work in fields like suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. The US Mint will release five new coins in the series each year.

“It matters to have women on U.S. currency because our currency should reflect our nation and the stories of our American people,” a US Mint spokesperson told Insider. “Women have made great contributions to our country and it is vital that we recognize those contributions on our coinage.”

There will be 320 million quarters released per honoree and distributed all over the country, a US Mint spokesperson told Insider. People can purchase quarter rolls from the US Mint website or request them from their local bank and credit union. 

Michele Selene Ang, a Chinese American actor and filmmaker, has watched Anna May Wong’s films and takes inspiration from the late actor’s resilience and ability to elevate what could be hollow roles into characters with full lives, Ang told Insider.

“I think her life is a great example of incredible bravery and resourcefulness,” Ang said. “She found ways to grow outside of the American studio system as an artist and as a woman.”

 Here’s a closeup look at the coins being issued in 2022 and 2023.   

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