History will be made as Cuban American songstress Celia Cruz, who is iconic in the world of Salsa music, will be the first Afro Latina to be on the U.S. quarter. The late singer recorded over 80 albums during the course of her career. Twenty-three of those albums went gold.
Cruz has also received four Grammy awards (including a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016), four Latin Grammy Awards and the President’s National Medal of Arts. The U.S. Mint chose Cruz, as well as four other women, as the 2024 honorees for the American Women Quarters Program.
The Mint is releasing five quarters annually from 2022 to 2025 to celebrate “ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse individuals.” In a press release, Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson explained the importance of their cultural contributions.
“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. 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.”
The other women include: Patsy Takemoto (the first woman of color to serve in Congress), Rev. Pauli Murray (writer, lawyer, activist), Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (a Civil War-era surgeon and abolitionist) and Zitkala-Ša (a composer, educator and political activist).
Cruz was born in Havana, Cuba in 1925 and started singing in the 1940s. Following the 1959 Cuban revolution, she exiled in the U.S. after a performance tour in Mexico. Cruz increased the popularity of Latin music and Salsa, even though those genres were regularly dominated by men.
The designs for the 2024 quarters will be released later this year.