The United States Mint is launching a new series of quarters honoring 20 trailblazing women, beginning with Maya Angelou and Dr. Sally Ride.
The poet and the NASA astronaut will be the first two women to appear on the back of the coins, which will be released in January and will be in circulation until 2025 as part of the American Women Quarters Program.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee said, “for too long, many of the women who have contributed to our country’s history have gone unrecognized, especially women of color.”
She went on to say that Angelou and Ride “paved the way for many who came after them and inspired young women to carry on their legacy.”
In April, the U.S. Mint announced Ride and Angelou as the first honorees, stating that the coins’ heads “will continue to feature a likeness of George Washington designed in a manner to distinguish it from the current image.”
The group also encouraged those interested in nominating women to be featured on the quarters to do so through a web portal form created by the National Women’s History Museum.
Ride’s life partner and co-founder of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego, Tam O’Shaughnessy, previously stated in an April statement that Ride was the first American woman in space and “would be so moved by this great honor.”
“It’s especially fitting that it comes during the 20th-anniversary celebration for Sally Ride Science,” O’Shaughnessy added. “This tribute reflects Sally’s legacy not only as a trailblazing astronaut but also as a champion of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.”
Ride passed away in 2012 at the age of 61.
Angelou, who died in 2014 at the age of 86, was best known for her 1970 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Her longtime friend and Writer Jessica Mitford previously told PEOPLE, “Maya is one of those totally steadfast people with a spine made of iron,” she added, “She’s a force of nature with so many talents in every direction that the combination comes like an earthquake.”
Sens. Deb Fischer and Catherine Cortez Masto previously stated in a February opinion piece in USA Today that “as female U.S. senators, our story would not have been possible without these women who came before us.”
They said, “We look forward to being reminded of their legacies every time we see their faces on a new quarter.”