First Afro-Latina will appear on U.S. Quarter


Concept art for Celia Cruz quarter from Coin World

Daniela Martinez, Staff Writer

The 2024 American Women Quarters Program will memorialize Celia Cruz by creating a quarter in her honor. The program aims to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of American women. Cruz died in 2003 but had become a beloved cultural icon in Cuban music and is largely admired for her contributions to the guaracha and salsa genres. Honorees of the program are selected by the Treasury secretary after consulting with the American Women’s History Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Women’s History Museum and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus. 

Assistant Principal Angelica Rivas-Smith agreed with the decision to recognize Cruz in American history and felt that the Quarters Program decision is a potential step towards greater recognition of historic female pioneers.

“It was a really great anti-racist move on their part, very bold,” said Rivas-Smith. “It speaks volumes about where we are headed as long as we keep making progress.” 

After the Cuban Revolution, Cruz immigrated to the U.S. in 1961 and helped define the sound of the salsa music. Over the span of her career, she recorded over 80 albums, earned 23 gold records, and received the National Medal of Arts. 

In America, Cruz has accomplished and contributed to the recognition of salsa music. Nearly 20 years after her death, she is able to be acknowledged for her legacy and be the face of embracing her identity as an Afro-Latina performer. Rivas-Smith reveals her opinion of the importance of selecting Cruz for the Quarters Program.

“It’s almost easier to change the face on a quarter so kids just study it than it is to change the hearts and minds of people who write the curriculum,” said Rivas-Smith. 

Other honorees for 2024 include Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color to serve in Congress. The women come from diverse fields in suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, the humanities, science, space and the arts.