US currency: Reflecting cultural and ethnic diversity


15 Jan 2017

US to issue $100 coin featuring African-American Lady Liberty

The United States would issue a commemorative $100 gold coin depicting Lady Liberty as an African-American for the first time.

The 24-karat gold coin would be released on 6 April in honor of the United States Mint's 225th anniversary.

It is one among the series of coins that would feature racially diverse versions of Lady Liberty, a national symbol portrayed as a white woman.

The United States Mint's statement

The coins would "depict an allegorical Liberty in a variety of contemporary forms, including designs representing Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Indian-Americans among others." The coins are being issued to "reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States."


Coin to also feature an eagle in flight

Coin to also feature an eagle in flight

The new gold coin worth $100 would be released on 6 April featuring the bust of a distinctly African-American Liberty and her crown of gold stars.

Underneath Lady Liberty appear the words - "In God We Trust" - and years 2017 and 1792, the year the Mint was created.

The other side of the coin features another potent American symbol, an eagle in flight.

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The Mint has never failed in its mission

The Principal Deputy Director of the United States Mint, Rhett Jeppson, stated, "Our founding fathers realized the critical need for our fledgling nation to have a respected monetary system, and over the last 225 years, the Mint has never failed in its mission."

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty, one of the most potent US symbols

Lady Liberty was a gift from France to the US in 1886 and stands in New York Harbor.

She is a giant statue with European features, bearing a torch for the refugees of the world.

Ironically, the announcement came at a crucial cultural moment, only days ahead of the transfer of Presidential power, following an election dominated by debates including immigration and race.

Rhett Jeppson's statement

"Part of our intent was to honor our tradition and heritage. But we also think it's always worthwhile to have a conversation about liberty, and we certainly have started that conversation."


New coins to be minted in limited quantities

New coins to be minted in limited quantities

The new coins aren't for everyday use but for collectors.

Only 100,000 gold coins featuring African-American Liberty will be minted and might cost more than the $100 face value.

Justin Kunz designed the coin's head while Phebe Hemphill engraved it.

Jeppson said he saw real value in the coin when several women approached him and said, "She looks like me when I was younger."

Another move

Harriet Tubman picked as the $20-bill's new face

In a first, to diversify the usually white statesmen featured on US currency, the slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, an African-American, was selected as the $20-bill's new face in Apr'16.

An open poll of over 600,000 Americans strongly favored Tubman.

She is known for her escape from slavery in 1849 and to help run 'Underground Railroad' enabling thousands of slaves to escape in the 19th century.

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