Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: Diversity and Inclusion in US Currency

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The following is an excerpt from an article by Scarlett Heinbuch, a payment risk expert on the Atlanta Fed’s Retail Payments Risk Forum

My interest in coins started at a young age. My grandfather shared his coin collection with me and showed me the details: tThe pennies and quarters made from real silver before 1964 and the backs of wheat on pennies (1909–58). He took pleasure in showing me the Buffalo Nickel (1913–38) with the Native American picture on the front.

My grandfather was proud of his North Carolina Cherokee roots. His profile resembled the picture on the coin, and I remembered feeling proud because, from my child’s point of view, I thought it was him.

Images on US currency that reflected his heritage meant something to him that I understood to mean that Native Americans were accepted into our nation’s monetary system and honored.

These memories came to mind when I recently saw two messages about greater diversity in our inclusion initiatives. The first announced that the picture of poet Maya Angelou will appear in a new American Women’s Quarters series, a four-year program starting in 2022. The other women will be astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, the head of the Cherokee nation, Wilma Mankiller, educator / women’s rights activist Nina Otero-Warren and film star Anna May Wong.

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