Black Woman to Portray Lady Liberty on U.S. Coin

Courtesy of the U.S. Mint
Courtesy of the U.S. Mint

The United States Mint unveiled designs for the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin, which will portray Lady Liberty as an African-American woman.

The Mint and the Treasury Department said in an announcement on Thursday that the coin, which is $100 face value, will celebrate the anniversary of the Mint’s coin production. The figure of Liberty on Augustus Saint-Gaudens double eagle gold coin design of 1907 was of model Hettie Anderson, who was actually a woman of African American descent, “but that fact is not widely known,” according to CoinWeek.

The 225th Anniversary Gold Coin is the first in a series of 24-karat gold coin designs that will “depict an allegorical Liberty in a variety of contemporary forms, including designs representing Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Indian Americans among others — to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States,” according to the statement.

“We boldly look to the future by casting Liberty in a new light … looking forward to ever brighter chapters in our nation’s history book,” Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson said.

The coin’s head-side depicts a profile of Liberty, with braids in her hair, wearing a crown of stars, with the inscriptions “Liberty,” “1792,” “2017” and “In God We Trust.” It was designed by Mint Artistic Infusion Program Designer Justin Kunz and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.

On the reverse side of the coin is an image of an eagle in flight. The inscription on the tails side includes the nation’s motto, “E pluribus unum,” which translates to English from Latin as “Out of many, one.” Chris Costello designed it.

The coin will be available for sale on April 6.

There was both praise and criticism of the coin on Twitter:

@Emily_Robinson: US Mint releasing a commemorative coin w a black Lady Liberty is giving me HOPE.

@Lady0fRage: I want one of those black lady liberty gold coins.

@blackwell7475: For the first time ever, a Black Lady Liberty on a coin @CNN http://cnn.it/2iPhJZi >A fine example of equality FOR ALL, we are ALL human!!

@Real_Dongald: Great, now because of #TheObamaYears we have to endure a Black lady liberty on a coin. F*** this sh**.

@elijah_sucks: Oh cool they’re putting a Black Lady Liberty on the $100 coin? What’s next, Caitlyn Jenner on our 20 dollar bills? F*** off.

Abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman will be featured on the front of a new $20 bill. Tubman now makes history as the first woman highlighted prominently on U.S. paper currency.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in an open letter in April the decision to put Tubman on the new $20 “was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old.”

Lew said the new bills are scheduled to be completed by 2020.

However, also in April, President-elect Donald Trump, then in the midst of campaigning for office, called the U.S. Department of Treasury’s decision to move former President Andrew Jackson to the back of the $20 bill “pure political correctness.”

“I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can come up with another denomination,” he said. “Maybe we can do the $2 bill? I don’t like seeing it. I think it’s pure political correctness.”

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