Saturday, December 2, 2023

Pauli Murray will be first Black queer person on U.S. currency

Pauli Murray — poet, writer, activist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest — will feature as the first Black queer person to be the face of one of five American Women Quarters released in 2024.

Previous queer women featured on the commemorative quarters include Dr. Sally Ride, Anna May Wong, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The pioneering American women celebrated on the quarters are listed below in the order the quarters will be released:


  • Maya Angelou – celebrated writer, performer, and social activist
  • Dr. Sally Ride – physicist, astronaut, educator, and first American woman in space
  • Wilma Mankiller – first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation
  • Nina Otero-Warren – a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first woman superintendent of Santa Fe public schools
  • Anna May Wong – first Chinese American film star in Hollywood


  • Bessie Coleman – first African American and first Native American woman pilot
  • Edith Kanakaʻole – indigenous Hawaiian composer, custodian of native culture and traditions
  • Eleanor Roosevelt – first lady, author, and civil liberties advocate
  • Jovita Idar – Mexican-American journalist, activist, teacher, and suffragist
  • Maria Tallchief – America’s first prima ballerina


  • Pauli Murray – poet, writer, activist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest
  • Patsy Takemoto Mink – first woman of color to serve in Congress
  • Dr. Mary Edwards Walker – Civil War era surgeon, women’s rights advocate, and abolitionist
  • Celia Cruz – Cuban-American singer, cultural icon, and one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century
  • Zitkala-Ša (“Red Bird”) – writer, composer, educator, and political activist

Following the U.S. Mint’s announcement of the next cohort in the American Women Quarters Program, including civil rights activist Pauli Murray, Dr. David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a leading Black LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, issued the following statement:

“The announcement by the U.S. Mint that it will include civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, the first Black queer person to be featured on U.S. currency deserves celebration. This moment is a reminder that wherever there is history there is Black history, and that Black history has always included the contributions of Black queer, trans, and non-binary/non-conforming members of our beautifully diverse community.

”Commemorating the life and legacy of Murray, who was a groundbreaking leader of racial and gender equality and progenitor of effective civil rights tactics, and was also one of the first women, first gender nonbinary person, and the first Black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest, is an important step toward recognizing the contributions that Black LGBTQ+/same-gender loving people have made to American history – Especially at a time when the evangelical right is using religion to separate, segregate, and inspire hate. 

“We commend the U.S. Mint for honoring Pauli Murray, amongst a number of influential and groundbreaking women. The lives, contributions, and stories of Black trans, queer, and non-binary/non-conforming people are fundamental to Black history and should continue to be told and celebrated.” 

Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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