American Opinion: Mint to make history with first Afro-Latina coin

From the editorial: The diversity of accomplishments and geographic and cultural backgrounds underscore the power of American women to influence the entire country.

US Mint.jpg
The U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.
Contributed / U.S. Mint

Celia Cruz will be the first Afro-Latina American woman on American currency, the U.S. Mint reports. The Latina singer, originally from Cuba, was one of the most popular entertainers in the world. Her career spanned six decades and included more than 80 albums, many of which achieved gold or platinum status. She will appear on the quarter as a part of the American Women Quarters Project’s class of 2024.

American Opinion
American Opinion
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Debuting in 2022, the U.S. Mint’s project aims to celebrate the accomplishments of American women and their vast contributions to the nation’s culture and history. The four-year program, concluding in 2025, will feature 20 women selected from a myriad of fields and disciplines. The 2022 class included poet Maya Angelou, film star Ana May Wong and astronaut Sally Ride.

"All of the women being honored have lived remarkable and multi-faceted lives, and have made a significant impact on our nation,” Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson said. “By honoring these pioneering women, the Mint continues to connect America through coins which are like small works of art in your pocket."

The diversity of accomplishments and geographic and cultural backgrounds underscore the power of American women to influence the entire country.

Celia Cruz is no exception.


She launched her career in 1948, but eventually the Fidel Castro regime trapped her in Cuba. During a tour of Mexico in 1961, she, along with her band, defected to the United States, where she was immediately granted citizenship. For years, she remained a defiant symbol of resistance to Castro and his brand of Communism.

She is famous as the “Queen of Salsa,” as well as for her version of “Guantanamera,” which she recorded several times, beginning in 1968.

The design for Cruz’s coin will be announced later this year.

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Cruz, who died in 2008 and is buried in New Jersey, was beloved in Latin America and the rest of the world. She sang at the history-making Rumble in the Jungle, the 1974 heavyweight boxing championship match in Zaire between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.

In putting her on the quarter, the U.S. Mint invites those who have have not heard of Celia Cruz to discover her music — and those who already love her to feel a piece of musical history in their hands.

This American Opinion editorial is the view of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board. Send feedback to:

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