The United States now has a coin featuring Frederick Douglass, the prominent African American who escaped slavery in 1838 and later become an abolitionist, civil rights advocate and statesman.
The coin’s front side retains a familiar profile of George Washington, America’s first president. But the reverse side depicts Douglass sitting at his writing desk in front of his historic home in Washington. Worth 25 cents and known as a “quarter,” the coin comes from the U.S. Mint, a division of the U.S. Treasury.
“Even at a young age, Frederick Douglass realized the value of literacy and the power of knowledge,” said David Motl of the Mint. “This new coin honors one of the most influential African-American leaders of the 19th century, whose brilliant words will continue to inspire us for generations to come.”
In 1962, Douglass’ home in Washington became a National Historic Site, which means it is deemed so important that it is protected.
The Frederick Douglass quarter is part of the Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters Program, an initiative that honors national parks and other national historic sites.
The Treasury Department is increasing the representation of women and people of color on U.S. currency. Earlier this year, the Mint released a special coin featuring Lady Liberty as an African-American woman. It plans to redesign the $20 bill to feature a portrait of Harriet Tubman in 2020.