News Briefs: US Mint discloses design of Rev. Pauli Murray quarter

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday August 2, 2023
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The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray, left, will grace a U.S. quarter next year and the design was recently unveiled. Photos: Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; U.S. Mint
The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray, left, will grace a U.S. quarter next year and the design was recently unveiled. Photos: Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; U.S. Mint

The design has been released for the U.S. quarter that will posthumously honor Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray as part of the U.S. Mint's American Women Quarters program. It is the latest American coin that will feature a queer female icon.

It will be released in 2024, along with a 25-cent piece for Civil War era surgeon Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a women's rights advocate and abolitionist with an LGBTQ-focused health clinic in Washington, D.C. partly named after her, as the Bay Area Reporter's online Political Notes column first reported in February.

Murray, as the B.A.R. noted in a 2021 LGBTQ History Month story, defied gender norms and variously identified as a woman, a man, and as neither. She was a Black civil rights activist, attorney, and much-published poet and essayist. Murray had created new feminist theory and lived a lesbian life for decades. Murray's was a life of firsts: first Black woman law school graduate at Howard University, first Black person to earn a JSD (doctor of the science of law) degree from Yale Law School, and first Black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.

Next year will be the third year of the four-year special U.S. quarter program, which was authorized by Congress. The program features coins with reverse (tails) designs emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of trailblazing American women, an U.S. Mint release noted. Five quarters are issued each year.

Murray, who died in 1985 at the age of 74, was conflicted over her gender identity. At various times in her early life, Murray identified as a man and dressed in androgynous clothing throughout most of her life. As the Pauli Murray Center details, "Murray actively used the phrase 'he/she personality,' during the early years of their life. Later in journals, essays, letters and autobiographical works, Pauli employed 'she/her/hers' pronouns."

Her quarter was designed by Emily Damstra and sculpted by Joseph Menna, chief engraver of the U.S. Mint, the release stated. It depicts Murray's eyeglass-framed face within the shape of the word "Hope," which is symbolic of Murray's belief that significant societal reforms were possible when rooted in hope, the release noted. A line from her poem "Dark Testament" that characterizes hope as "a song in a weary throat" is featured as an additional inscription in the design.

The other quarters in the 2024 series will honor Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first woman from Hawaii to be elected to Congress; Cuban singer Celia Cruz, who eventually came to the U.S.; Zitkala-Sa, a Yankton Dakota writer, editor, translator, musician, educator, and political activist; and Walker, who became the first female U.S. Army surgeon during the Civil War.

On-sale dates for products containing the 2024 American Women Quarters Program will be published on the Mint's product schedule here. When available, the Mint will accept orders at

'Queer-aoke' night at San Mateo center

The San Mateo County Pride Center will hold its inaugural "Queer-aoke" karaoke event Thursday, August 10, starting at 7 p.m. at 1021 S. El Camino Real in San Mateo.

Hosted by Krystle CanSINGo, people are invited to share their vocal talents and cheer on their friends.

The event is open to all ages and is co-sponsored by Outlet, a program of Adolescent Counseling Services. Youth are encouraged to attend, a flyer stated.

For more information, go to or call (650) 591-0133.

Horizons reports on Give OUT Day

Horizons Foundation has reported that this year's Give OUT Day was a success, with over $1.2 million raised for almost 500 LGBTQ nonprofits during Pride Month in June.

The San Francisco-based foundation operates the national program, in which people pledge funds online to their favorite queer nonprofit.

People, of course, are free to make donations to the various organizations at any time. For the results of this year's campaign, click here.

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