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Pauli Murray

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The United States Mint is continuing to use its coinage to celebrate the legacies of unsung heroines who have left their mark on American history. Amongst the latest collective of luminaries who will have their likenesses featured on a quarter is civil rights activist Pauli Murray.

Murray’s transformative contributions to advancing racial and gender equality will be celebrated through the 2024 American Women Quarters Program. The coin series was cultivated to spread awareness about the pivotal strides influential women have made throughout history.

Murray—the first Black woman to become an ordained Episcopal priest—was a fierce advocate for social justice. The Baltimore native, who was a lawyer, activist, and scholar, led efforts around the desegregation of public spaces amid the civil rights movement. The Howard University School of Law alum co-created the Congress of Racial Equality alongside Bayard Rustin, George Houser, and James Farmer. After completing her post-graduate work at UC Berkeley School of Law, she published the book States’ Laws on Race and Color which served as a foundational element that shaped the civil rights movement.

Murray also co-founded the National Organization of Women. She later served as the vice president of the South Carolina-based Benedict College and made history in the realm of academia as the first person to teach African-American Studies and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University.

“All of the women being honored have lived remarkable and multi-faceted lives, and have made a significant impact on our Nation in their own unique way,” Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson shared in a statement. “The women pioneered change during their lifetimes, not yielding to the status quo imparted during their lives. By honoring these pioneering women, the Mint continues to connect America through coins which are like small works of art in your pocket.”

Other women that will be honored through the program include songstress Celia Cruz, former United States representative Patsy Takemoto Mink, surgeon Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, and writer Zitkala-Ša. The quarter designs are slated to be unveiled in mid-2023.

Murray joins a list of pioneering Black women to be included in the American Women Quarters Program including Dr. Maya Angelou and aviator Bessie Coleman.


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