Bessie Coleman Quarter

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Bessie Coleman Quarter

The American Women Quarters Program, a four-year initiative by the United States Mint, stands as a testament to the nation’s commitment to celebrating the achievements of women who have made significant contributions to its rich history.

Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to get a pilot’s license, is one of the program’s most iconic women. Her groundbreaking aviation career broke down barriers and opened doors for many women and people of color in the future.

As a symbol of resilience and determination, Bessie Coleman’s inclusion in the program reflects the broader acknowledgment of women’s diverse and impactful roles in shaping the fabric of American society. Her story is not merely a personal triumph but a narrative that resonates with the immense struggles for equality and recognition.

The American Women Quarters Program serves as miniature canvasses to showcase the achievements of remarkable women and highlight the collective struggle to overcome discrimination and societal norms.

2023 Bessie Coleman Quarter

The American Women Quarters Program

The U.S. Mint’s ambitious American Women Quarters Program, which runs from 2022 to 2025, honors the country’s rich history while also acting as a powerful storytelling tool. The annual release of up to five new reverse designs and George Washington’s continual presence on the obverse make each of the 2023 quarters a unique canvas.

While the constantly changing reverse designs serve as a dynamic reflection of the different accomplishments made by women across various industries, the evolving portrayals of Washington symbolize the country’s commitment to progress.

The main goal of the American Women Quarters Program goes far beyond the coins’ aesthetic appeal. The program highlights the diverse roles that women have played in the development of this country, highlighting achievements in the fields of suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts.

An intentional emphasis on racial, ethnic, and geographical diversity begins to paint a nuanced portrait of American womanhood. Through intentional inclusion, the country’s narrative is enriched by the stories of women who are often overlooked or excluded.

The 2023 quarters highlighted five pioneering American women and their remarkable achievements. Each woman’s story unfolds in these 2023 quarters, contributing to a collective narrative that spans continents, cultures, and centuries. The five women for the 2023 quarters include the following women:

  • Bessie Coleman, who holds the groundbreaking achievement as the first African American and Native American woman with a pilot’s license
  • Edith Kanakaʻole, an indigenous Hawaiian composer dedicated to preserving native culture
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, a multifaceted leader, reformer, author, and former First Lady
  • Jovita Idar, a Mexican-American journalist, activist, teacher, and suffragist
  • Maria Tallchief, who was the first prima ballerina from the U.S.

The Bessie Coleman Quarter, a focal point of this remarkable series, marks a critical turning point in American efforts to promote diversity and inclusion and honor women’s accomplishments.

These American Women Quarters honor historical women while inspiring and educating the public about the important contributions made by women throughout history by showcasing women like Bessie Coleman on a national scale. Millions of people own these quarters, which work as change agents by dispelling myths and encouraging an increased awareness of how women contribute to the country’s development.

Bessie Coleman: A Pioneering Spirit

Bessie Coleman’s remarkable journey from her humble beginnings in Atlanta, Texas, to becoming a trailblazing aviator and equality advocate is a testament to her indomitable spirit and determination. Born in 1892 into a family of 13 children, Coleman faced the challenges of growing up in a sharecropper family. The financial constraints led her to drop out of college after completing just one semester, marking the beginning of a unique and extraordinary life path.

In 1915, looking for new opportunities, Coleman moved to Chicago to live with her brothers. In the city’s vibrant atmosphere, her fascination with aviation took flight. However, the racial discrimination prevalent in the United States during that era proved to be a formidable barrier. Existing flight schools refused admission to Coleman due to her gender and ethnicity, denying her the chance to pursue her passion for flying.

Undeterred by the setbacks, Coleman set her sights on overcoming these obstacles. Recognizing the need for a specialized education, she made a bold decision – she would learn French and pursue aviation training in Europe, where attitudes towards women and people of color in the field were more open-minded. In 1920, she embarked on a journey to Paris, enrolling in a French aviation school.

Bessie Coleman Takes Flight

Coleman’s determination and dedication were fully displayed as she immersed herself in her studies. She achieved a significant milestone in just seven months: earning her pilot’s license. This historic accomplishment marked her as the first African American woman and Native-American woman with a pilot’s license. This feat echoed across continents and shattered racial and gender barriers.

Returning to the United States as a licensed aviator, Bessie Coleman embarked on a groundbreaking career in aviation. Performing awe-inspiring aerial stunts, she captivated audiences and showcased her exceptional skills. Beyond her achievements in the skies, Coleman emerged as a prominent activist for gender and racial equality.

Using her platform as a respected aviator, she became a vocal advocate for social justice. Bessie Coleman used her influence to challenge the prevailing norms and demand equal opportunities for women and African Americans. Her commitment to breaking down barriers extended beyond the cockpit, making her a symbol of resilience and empowerment.

Tragically, Bessie Coleman’s promising life met an untimely end in 1926 when she died in a plane crash at the age of 34. Generations are still inspired by her legacy, even after her tragic death.

The Bessie Coleman Quarter, part of the American Women Quarters Program, is a lasting tribute to her enduring impact on aviation, gender equality, and civil rights. Her story resonates as a beacon of hope, encouraging individuals to overcome adversity, pursue their passions, and strive for a more inclusive and equitable future.

The Coin Design

The Bessie Coleman Quarter pays tribute to this aviation pioneer’s remarkable life and accomplishments. The coin’s design, both on the obverse and reverse sides, captures the spirit of her pioneering journey.

Through meticulous attention to detail, this coin serves as a commemoration of her historic achievements and a tangible link to the legacy of a woman who defied societal limitations to soar to new heights.

The Obverse Side

The Bessie Colemantgf Quarter’s obverse side pays homage to the foundational values of the U.S. rather than just serving as a blank canvas for a historical portrait. George Washington’s carefully detailed portrait by Laura Gardin Fraser is a constant reminder of the country’s founding principles and the ongoing influence of its first president.

This famous image, designed especially to commemorate George Washington’s 200th birthday, gives the coin a historical depth by connecting today’s Bessie Coleman celebration to the country’s historic past.

Inscriptions on this side include:

  • “LIBERTY”: Echoes the fundamental ideal that has been a guiding force throughout American history.
  • “IN GOD, WE TRUST”: Reinforces the enduring faith that has significantly shaped the country’s character.
  • “2023”: The inclusion of 2023 marks a specific time and symbolizes an ongoing process, a bridge between Bessie Coleman’s historic accomplishments and progress towards equality.

The Bessie Coleman Quarter combines the pioneer spirit of a remarkable aviator with the nation’s founding principles on the obverse side.

The Reverse Side

The reverse side, commonly known as the back or “tails,” showcases a depiction of Bessie Coleman in her aviation gear with a determined expression, symbolizing her pursuit of freedom in the skies.

Inscriptions on this side include:

  • “6.15.1921” – the date when she received her pilot’s license

The Bessie Coleman Quarter was minted in both Denver and Philadelphia. Sculpted by Eric David Custer, a medallic artist, and designed by Chris Costello, an artist of the Artistic Infusion Program, the coin stands as a fitting tribute to a woman whose legacy continues to inspire.

The Bessie Coleman Quarter is a compelling addition, highlighting the importance of overcoming racial and gender obstacles in traditionally male-only fields. The American Women Quarters Program, which highlights her alongside other trailblazing women, is a powerful educational tool encouraging people to explore the rich tapestry of American history and recognize the many voices that have shaped its diverse past.

The 2023 quarters become more than just currency; they serve as conversation starters and sources of inspiration, encouraging a deeper understanding of the struggles and accomplishments that have shaped the country.


The American Women Quarters Program serves as a vital initiative, recognizing and celebrating the contributions of women to the United States’ history and culture. Bessie Coleman’s story embodies perseverance and determination, qualities essential for success in any field.

By featuring her on a national coin, the United States Mint honors her legacy and inspires a new generation of aviators and aviation enthusiasts. The Bessie Coleman Quarter stands as a symbol of endless possibilities for everyone, encouraging them to reach for the skies and follow their dreams.

Quarter Obverse Inscriptions

In God We Trust

Quarter Reverse Inscriptions

Bessie Coleman

United States of America
Quarter Dollar
E Pluribus Unum
Bessie Coleman
6-15-1921, the date Coleman received her pilot’s license

Mint & Quarter Mint Marks

Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco (P, D & S)






San Francisco


Available Quarter Mint Strikes

Business & Proof

American Women Quarter Specifications

Composition in Proof & Business Strike:  91.67% Copper & 8.33% Nickel
Composition in Silver Proof: 99.9 Fine Silver
Clad Weight: 5.670 grams
Silver Weight:  5.641 grams

Thickness: 1.75mm
Edge: Reeded & Number of Reeds: 119
Diameter: 24.26mm

American Women Quarter Artist Information

Obverse Design: Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966)
Reverse Design: Eric David Custer, Medallic Artist

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