Photo: Ibrahim Arce (Nancy Studios photographer) Public Domain

Celia Cruz Is First Afro-Latina On U.S. Currency

Celia Cruz has been chosen to be one of five American Women Quarters Program honorees to be featured on the American quarter in 2023.

The late Afro-Latina salsa legend will join a short list of historic female leaders to be featured on the 25 cent coin along with Patsy Takemoto Mink (the first woman of color to serve in Congress,) Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (a Civil War surgeon and suffragist,) Pauli Murray (a civil rights activist and lawyer,) and Zitkala-Ša (a voting rights activist from the Yankton Sioux Nation.)

In a statement about the decision, Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson told NPR. “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.”

Scheduled for a mid-2023 release, the forthcoming design for the new American Women Quarters follows Maya Angelou (the first Black woman featured on the U.S. quarter,) Adelina Otero-Warren (the first Latina to be featured on U.S. currency,) and Anna May Wong (the first Asian American to be featured on U.S. currency.)

Born in Havana, Cuba but immigrated to the U.S. at age 36, Celia built her career as one of the most influential Latina singers of all time, with such memorable hits are “La Vida Es Un Carnavál,” “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” “Quimbara,” and “Oye Cómo Va.” Ranked #18 amongst Rolling Stone‘s list of the 200 Greatest Singers, Cruz died in 2003 after a battle with cancer.

About her fellow Hispanic chanteuse, Ivy Queen told Rolling Stone “For me, Celia had a completely unique, distinct voice, and her look was spectacular.” “She was a woman surrounded by men at Fania Records — and when Celia would make her big entrance, all the men had to bow down because Mother had arrived to take control.” “The tone of her voice — there won’t ever be a replica of it.”

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Author: Saul Goode

Photo: Ibrahim Arce (Nancy Studios photographer) Public Domain