Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Coin
In 2020, the United States Mint initiated the American Women Quarters Program, a visionary project from 2022 to 2025. This innovative series aims to spotlight and commemorate the indelible contributions of women throughout American history, marking a departure from traditional numismatic themes.
The first woman to be featured in the American Women Quarters Program for 2024 is Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray—a luminary in American civil rights activism, a trailblazing lawyer, and a pioneering Episcopal priest.
Reverend Dr. Murray’s legacy, steeped in resilience and dedication to the pursuit of social justice, is vividly captured in the intricate design of the newly minted 2024 quarter. The obverse proudly showcases her inspiring portrait, embodying the spirit of progress and equality that defines her extraordinary life.
As we explore the depths of Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray’s impact, it becomes clear that this commemorative coin is more than just a collector’s item; it’s a powerful representation of how women have shaped American history.
What is the American Women Quarters Program?
The American Women Quarters Program honors the remarkable contributions of American women across diverse fields. Issued by the United States Mint, up to five new reverse designs annually spotlight figures from suffrage, civil rights, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. Compared to previous quarters, the program features women from various ethnic, racial, and geographic backgrounds while keeping George Washington on the obverse.
The 2024 lineup includes:
- Reverand Dr. Pauli Murray, a multifaceted poet, writer, activist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest
- Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color in Congress
- Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a women’s rights activist and Civil War surgeon
- Celia Cruz, the influential Cuban-American singer
- Zitkala-Ša, a writer, composer, educator, and political activist
The Life of Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray
Pauli Murray was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1910. Her parents, Agnes and William Murray, died when Murray was young, leaving her to be raised by her aunt and maternal grandparents in Durham, North Carolina. Murray faced many challenges in her life, including racism, sexism, and poverty, but she was determined to overcome these obstacles and make a difference in the world.
Murray was a gifted student, graduating high school at 15. She then attended Hunter College in New York City. After graduating in 1933, Murray struggled to find work due to the discrimination against Black women at the time. She and a friend were also arrested and jailed after refusing to move to the back of a bus during an interstate journey between New York and North Carolina.
The 1930s was a time when Murray struggled with her gender identity and was denied hormone therapy. Although it’s not confirmed what Murray’s gender identity was, the Pauli Murray Center interchangeably uses the following pronouns when referring to Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray:
- Refer to Pauli Murray by their name and titles
Murray continued her education at Howard Law School and UC Berkeley School of Law, earning a law degree in the 1940s. Despite facing discrimination and harassment, Murray persevered and became an accomplished lawyer, arguing several critical civil rights cases before the Supreme Court.
Murray became the first African American to graduate from Yale Law School with a Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD) degree in 1965.
A Trailblazing Activist and Pioneering Episcopal Priest
In addition to her legal work, Murray emerged as a prominent civil rights activist, actively engaging in transformative movements. A dedicated member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), she collaborated closely with Thurgood Marshall. This partnership would see him become the first Black Supreme Court Justice. Murray’s unwavering determination carried her to the forefront of the women’s rights movement, where she was an avid supporter of gender equality and played a pivotal role in establishing the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Later in life, breaking barriers again, Murray achieved the historic milestone of becoming the first black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest. Her commitment to social justice remained unwavering until she died in 1985, leaving behind a legacy defined by courage, determination, and compassion.
Amidst the challenges of the 1930s, marked by poverty and limited work opportunities, Murray found solace in poetry. Initially published in various magazines, her work paved the way for the release of two poetry books in the 1950s and a posthumous autobiography in 1987. These literary contributions testify to Murray’s resilience and creative spirit during adversity.
The Coin Design
The design of a coin is not just a matter of aesthetics; it is also a reflection of the individual or event being commemorated. The American Women Quarters Program, which honors pioneering women in American history, is no exception. Each American Women Quarters Program coin features a unique design that pays tribute to the woman being celebrated.
The life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray and all her achievements inspire the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter. The design of the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter is a powerful tribute to Murray’s life and accomplishments. In this section, we will look closer at the design of the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter and what it represents.
The Obverse Side
The obverse (heads) side of the coin displays a portrait of George Washington, which Laura Gardin Fraser originally designed to commemorate his 200th birthday. Although a design for the 1932 quarter, it’s a testament to the enduring artistry woven into the fabric of American currency.
The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter features the honorable image of the country’s first president alongside statements that boldly represent timeless American values:
- “IN GOD WE TRUST”: a timeless declaration
- “LIBERTY”: a cornerstone of the nation’s foundation
- “2024”: marking the culmination of a transformative series honoring women who have left a lasting impact on American heritage
The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter becomes a physical link to the ongoing themes of resilience and liberty because of this contrast between the past and present.
The Reverse Side
On the reverse (tails) side of the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter, we see the image of Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray, wearing her glasses, inside the word “HOPE.” This powerful design symbolizes Murray’s faith in the potential for meaningful societal transformations when founded on hope. The design also incorporates a quote from Murray’s poem “Dark Testament,” framing hope as “A SONG IN A WEARY THROAT.”
Highlighted on the back of the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter are inscriptions bearing profound significance:
- “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” anchors the coin in its national context
- “A SONG IN A WEARY THROAT” echoes the lyrical resonance of Murray’s words
- “THE REVEREND DR. PAULI MURRAY”
- “E PLURIBUS UNUM”
This coin was minted in Denver and Philadelphia and designed by Laura Gardin Fraser for the front, sculptor Joseph Menna, and designer Emily Damstra from the Artistic Infusion Program for the back. Its two minting locations represent how widely acknowledged and meaningful Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray’s important contributions are throughout the United States.
This meticulously crafted 2024 quarter is a tribute to Murray’s legacy and inspires anyone dedicated to the continuous fight for equality and social justice.
Why the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter Matters
The significance of the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter extends beyond its role as just a piece of currency. It stands as a powerful symbol, embodying the strides achieved in the ongoing struggle for social justice and equality while a reminder of the work that still needs to be done.
By featuring Murray on the 2024 quarter, the United States Mint is honoring her legacy and bringing her story to a broader audience. The coin becomes a tangible representation of the essential contributions made by women and people of color to American history, thereby perpetuating awareness of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice.
The design of the quarter adds another layer of significance. Murray’s portrait is not just an image; it encapsulates the strength, courage, and determination that defined her remarkable life. Beyond a monetary artifact, the coin becomes a visual narrative, resonating with the profound qualities that made Murray an influential force in social and civil rights movements.
In an era of political and social upheaval, the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter emerges as a beacon of hope and inspiration. It serves as a reminder that progress is possible and calls upon each individual to play a role in creating a more just and equitable society. Murray’s enduring spirit becomes a catalyst for optimism through this commemorative coin, encouraging a collective commitment to forging a brighter future.
The American Women Quarters Program is not only a celebration of pioneering women in American history but also a reflection of the nation’s progress in recognizing the contributions of women and minorities.
By featuring the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter in the American Women Quarters Program, the United States Mint is paying tribute to a woman who faced discrimination on multiple fronts yet made significant contributions to the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement. The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray Quarter symbolizes hope and inspiration, inspiring us to continue the fight for equality and justice for all.
Quarter Obverse Inscriptions
In God We Trust
Quarter Reverse Inscriptions
Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray
United States of America
A Song in a Weary Throat
E Pluribus Unum
The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray
Mint & Quarter Mint Marks
Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco (P, D & S)
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
Edge: Reeded & Number of Reeds: 119
American Women Quarter Artist Information
Obverse Design: Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966)
Reverse Design: Sculptor Joseph Menna, Medallic Artist
Designer: Emily Damstra, Artistic Infusion Program
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