Cuban American Singer Celia Cruz To Be First Afro Latina On U.S. Quarter

The U.S. Mint announced last week that legendary Cuban American singer Celia Cruz will appear on the U.S. quarter. She will be the first Afro Latina featured on the American coin, according to NPR.

Cruz is among a handful of new honoreesin the Mint’s American Women Quarters Program, which recognizes people of diverse ethnic, racial and geographical backgrounds for their accomplishments. Known as the Queen of Salsa, she was one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century.

Cruz first made her mark as the lead singer of La Sonora Matancera, a well-known orchestra in her home country of Cuba. In 1961, she immigrated to the U.S., where she helped shape and define salsa music. Her music career spanned 60 years, during which she received multiple Grammy awards and a National Medal of Arts. She died in 2003 at the age of 77 and later received a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Along with Cruz, the Mint named four other women as honorees: Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color to serve in Congress; Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a Civil War-era surgeon, women’s rights advocate and abolitionist; Pauli Murray, a poet, writer and lawyer; and Zitkala-Ša, a political activist for Native American rights.

“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 said in a statement.

“The women pioneered change during their lifetimes, not yielding to the status quo,” Gibson added. “By honoring these pioneering women, the Mint continues to connect America through coins which are like small works of art in your pocket.”

Coin designs for the new honorees areset to be revealed later this year. The quarters program, running from 2022 to 2025, releases up to five new designs annually.