Celia Cruz Quarter

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Celia Cruz Quarter

At the heart of the American Women Quarters Program is a celebration of remarkable women who have left an incredible mark on American history. Among these pioneering women is Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa, whose contributions to music and culture are celebrated on the 2024 quarters.

The American Women Quarters Program honors five women each year over four years, ensuring these women get the recognition they deserve.

Let us delve into the captivating story of Cruz’s life and the significance of her inclusion in this important program.

Celia Cruz: A Life in Music and Legacy

Celia Cruz’s journey begins in the vibrant streets of Havana, Cuba, where she was born on October 21, 1925. Raised in the diverse neighborhood of Santos Suárez, Cruz was immersed in the rich musical traditions of her Afro-Cuban heritage from a young age. 

Her parents, Simon and Catalina, instilled in her a deep appreciation for music, with her father encouraging her to sing by rewarding her with small coins for each song she learned. This early encouragement started Cruz’s passion for singing, laying the foundation for her remarkable career to come.

Growing up in Cuba during a time of political and social upheaval, Cruz faced several challenges, including racial discrimination in Cuban society. Despite these obstacles, her talent and determination were strong, pushing her to chase her dreams of becoming a professional singer. 

In 1950, she auditioned for Cuba’s most prestigious dance band, La Sonora Matancera, and was accepted as their lead singer, beginning her rise to stardom. Singing with La Sonora Matancera catapulted Cruz to fame as she graced stages across Latin America, mesmerizing audiences with her powerful voice and electrifying stage presence.

Her dynamic fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms, including the son, rumba, and guaracha, with elements of jazz and soulful vocals, revolutionized the Latin music scene, earning her the title of the “Queen of Salsa.” With hits like “Quimbara,” “La Vida es un Carnaval,” and “Bemba Colorá,” Cruz became an international sensation.

Celia Cruz’s Return to Cuba

In 1960, amidst the political turmoil of the Cuban Revolution, Celia Cruz faced a crucial moment in her life as she and her husband, Pedro Knight, made the difficult decision to leave their homeland. Fleeing the oppressive regime of Fidel Castro, Cruz’s exile marked a profound chapter in her journey as she embarked on a new path in the United States.

Over three decades later, in 1990, Celia Cruz was able to return to Cuba, marking an emotional homecoming after years of exile. Her fellow Cubans celebrated her return by welcoming her with open arms. 

Despite the political rifts that had separated Cruz and Cuba for so long, her return represented a moment of unity and reconciliation as she reclaimed her heritage and Cuban roots.

Honoring Celia Cruz’s Legacy

In 2003, the world mourned the loss of Celia Cruz, as she died of brain cancer at the age of 77. Her death marked the end of an era, leaving behind a profound legacy.

Even though she battled an illness, Cruz inspired her fans until the very end. Musicians and fans worldwide will never forget the Queen of Salsa for her contributions to music and culture.

Cruz’s charm and larger-than-life personality attracted fans from all over the world, establishing her position as a cultural icon. Her career spanned over six decades, during which she recorded over 80 albums, won several honors and awards, including three Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammy Awards, and collaborated with famous artists across genres. Her impact on Latin music and popular culture is endless, with her legacy continuing to inspire artists and fans alike.

Cruz’s impact was global, revolutionizing the Latin music industry and opening doors for upcoming musicians. Her powerful mix of soulful vocals and Afro-Cuban rhythms marked an era and transformed the international music scene. Cruz’s legacy continues to inspire many artists, embodying resilience, passion, and the unyielding spirit of her Cuban roots.

The Queen of Salsa will always hold a special place in the hearts of music lovers everywhere!

The American Women Quarters Program

The American Women Quarters Program is a program that runs between 2022 and 2025, honoring the extraordinary contributions of women throughout American history. Launched in 2022 by the United States Mint, this initiative has one goal: to honor the 20 chosen women who have paved the way for future generations.

Through a very meticulous selection process, notable figures like Celia Cruz are commemorated on the reverse side of the iconic quarter coin, making these coins the perfect addition to coin collectors in the United States.

Alongside Cruz, the program features various trailblazing women from diverse fields, including civil rights activists, scientists, and artists. From Maya Angelou to Sally Ride, each honoree symbolizes resilience, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. Each woman who has been chosen for the program is diverse, coming from different geographical, racial, and ethnic backgrounds.

The American Women Quarters Program is honoring five women in 2024, including:

  • Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray was known for her roles as a poet, writer, activist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest. 
  • Patsy Takemoto Mink made history as the first woman of color to serve in Congress. 
  • Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was a pioneering figure during the Civil War era, known for her work as a surgeon, advocating for women’s rights and advocating dress reform. 
  • Celia Cruz, a Cuban-American, left a mark as a singer, cultural icon, and one of the most beloved Latin artists of the 20th century. 
  • Zitkala-Ša distinguished herself as a writer, composer, educator, and political activist.

The Coin Design

The design of the Celia Cruz Quarter is the perfect way to honor Celia Cruz’s life and legacy. The coin has different portraits on its obverse and reverse sides, ensuring traditions are kept while also capturing Cruz’s spirit and personality.

Let’s look at the obverse and reverse sides of the Celia Cruz Quarter and how the American Women Quarters Program has honored this amazing woman.

The Obverse Side

The obverse side of the coin, also known as the heads, is a portrait of George Washington, originally crafted by Laura Gardin Fraser to commemorate his 200th birthday. This version, selected by then-Treasury Secretary Mellon, continues the tradition of honoring the first President of the United States. 

Inscriptions are found on the obverse side of the Celia Cruz Quarter, which includes the following:

  • “LIBERTY” 
  • “IN GOD WE TRUST” 
  • “2024” 

The inscriptions capture the American values of freedom and faith alongside the powerful image of the United States’ first leader.

The Reverse Side

On the reverse side of the Celia Cruz Quarter, also known as tails, the coin has a portrait of Celia Cruz, capturing her in a moment of joy as she performs in a rumba-style dress. Her infectious smile and dynamic presence radiate from the coin, reflecting her energy on stage. 

There are various inscriptions on the reverse side of the Celia Cruz Quarter, including:

  • “¡AZÚCAR!”— the iconic catchphrase that is a cry for joy and celebration
  • “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” 
  • “E PLURIBUS UNUM” 
  • “25₵”
  • “CELIA CRUZ”

Celia Cruz’s image is brought to life by Phebe Hemphill, a talented medallic artist. The Celia Cruz Quarter is minted in both Denver and Philadelphia, with each bearing the distinctive mark of its origin. Minting in these two locations ensures the coin gets distributed across the country. 

The Significance of Celia Cruz’s Inclusion in the American Women Quarters Program

Including Celia Cruz in the American Women Quarters Program holds a lot of significance. Known as the “Queen of Salsa,” Cruz revolutionized the Latin music scene, spreading her music and culture around the world. Fusing Afro-Cuban rhythms with her soulful vocals extended into a cultural pride for Latinx communities worldwide.

As an Afro-Latina woman, Cruz challenged societal norms and paved the way for future generations of artists. Her journey from humble beginnings in Havana, Cuba, to international stardom exemplifies the immigrant experience and chasing the American Dream. 

In addition, Cruz’s inclusion in the American Women Quarters Program also shows how important it is to have inclusion and representation in popular culture. It’s also a reminder of the accomplishments made by women of color to American society, as she is one of the few Latinas honored in the program.

Conclusion

In commemorating Celia Cruz through the American Women Quarters Program, we celebrate more than a musical icon; we honor a trailblazer whose legacy has reached far and wide across the globe. With her image on a coin, Cruz’s story can spread and become a symbol of hope and inspiration for musicians and her fans.

As we reflect on Cruz’s life and accomplishments, let us support projects like the American Women Quarters Program that celebrate diversity and inclusion. We can create a more inclusive and equitable future by elevating the voices of diverse people and celebrating the accomplishments of women from all walks of life.

Let’s work together to highlight the incredible accomplishments of women like Celia Cruz and ensure that future generations are inspired by their stories.

Quarter Obverse Inscriptions

In God We Trust
Liberty
2024

Quarter Reverse Inscriptions

Celia Cruz

United States of America
Celia Cruz
¡Azúcar!
25¢
E Pluribus Unum

Mint & Quarter Mint Marks

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

Mintage

Denver

TDB

Philadelphia

TDB

San Francisco

TDB

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:  Sculptor Craig Campbell, Medallic Artist
Designer: Emily Damstra, Artistic Infusion Program

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