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The Queen of Salsa will be honored with a quarter as part of a series that pays tribute to women in America.

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The U.S. Mint has unveiled the coin depicting the likeness of Celia Cruz, the newest quarter in the American Women Quarters Program.

The Cuban American singer is the first Afro-Latina to be on a U.S. coin, The New York Times reported.

Cruz was born in Havana and joined La Sonora Matancera before moving to New York in 1961, the newspaper reported. She helped make salsa and Latin music popular in a genre dominated by men. She died in 2003 at the age of 77 from complications after brain tumor surgery.

Cruz recorded more than 80 albums, 23 of which were declared gold. She also won three Grammy awards and four Latin Grammys in addition to being awarded a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Grammy ceremony. In 1994, Cruz received a National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton, according to NBC News.

“When people hear me sing,” she told the Times in 1985, “I want them to be happy, happy, happy. I don’t want them thinking about when there’s not any money, or when there’s fighting at home. My message is always felicidad — happiness.”

The coin, according to the U.S. Mint, has George Washington on the heads side. The image was designed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser to commemorate Washington’s 200th birthday in 1932, though it was not used until 1999. The tails side shows Cruz “flashing her dazzling smile while performing in a rumba style dress.” Her catchphrase “­¡AZÚCAR!” is shown prominently. The word directly translates to “sugar” but was also the title of one of her songs and was “a ‘battle cry’ and an allusion to African slaves who worked Cuba’s sugar plantations,” according to NPR.

The design was created by Phebe Hemphill, a metallic artist, the Mint said.

It will be minted in Denver and Philadelphia.

Cruz is among five women chosen to be honored in the quarter program in 2024, NBC News reported. Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color to serve in Congress; Pauli Murray, a lawyer, activist and writer; Mary Edwards Walker, an abolitionist and Civil War surgeon; and Zitkala-Sa, who also was known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, a political activist for Native American rights; will also be honored with quarters next year, The New York Times reported.

The American Women’s Quarters Program started in 2022 and will last four years, continuing through 2025.

According to the Mint’s website, the program has so far featured:


  • Maya Angelou – writer, performer and social activist.
  • Dr. Sally Ride – physicist, astronaut, educator and first American woman in space.
  • Wilma Mankiller – first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
  • Nina Otero-Warren – suffrage leader and the first woman superintendent of Santa Fe, New Mexico, public schools.
  • Anna May Wong – first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.


  • Bessie Coleman – first African American and first Native American woman licensed pilot.
  • Edith Kanakaʻole – indigenous Hawaiian composer and custodian of native culture and traditions.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt – leader, reformer, first lady and author.
  • Jovita Idar – Mexican-American journalist, activist, teacher and suffragist.
  • Maria Tallchief – America’s first prima ballerina.


  • Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray – poet, writer, activist, lawyer and Episcopal priest.
  • Patsy Takemoto Mink – first woman of color to serve in Congress.
  • Dr. Mary Edwards Walker – Civil War-era surgeon, women’s rights and dress reform advocate.
  • Celia Cruz – Cuban-American singer, cultural icon and one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century.
  • Zitkala-Ša – writer, composer, educator and political activist.