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‘Queen of Salsa' Celia Cruz Makes History as First Afro-Latina on U.S. Currency

Cuban icon and Queen of Salsa Celia Cruz has been selected by the United States Mint to be one of the five honorees in the 2024 American Women Quarters Program.

The American Women Quarters Program is a four-year program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women of the United States. Beginning in 2022, and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint will issue up to five new reverse designs each year.

Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alonso, was a Cuban American cultural icon, and one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century. Cruz, is a recipient of numerous honors and awards, including five Grammy Awards, a National Medal of Arts, and a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

“All the women being honored have lived remarkable and multi-faceted lives, and have made a significant impact on our Nation in their own unique way,” said Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson.


Born in Havana, Cuba, on Oct. 21, 1925, Celia’s music career began when she became the main voice of the Sonora Mantancera in the 50s.

In 1966, she took a leap in her career by traveling to New York and joining Tito Puente, which broadened the scope of her talent and in 1973 she recorded her first song with Fania All Stars and started the transition to Salsa. At the time, she was also the only female voice of Fania, which included the most renowned singers and musicians in the genre at the time.

After making history with the Fania and dominating the tastes of Caribbean beats, Celia joined in recordings of other genres with artists such as David Byrne, Wyclef Jean, Dionne Wawirck, Patti Labelle and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, among others.

Celia died on July 16, 2003, at age 78 at her home in Fort Lee, New Jersey. 


  • Patsy Takemoto Mink was the first woman of color to serve in Congress. 
  • Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was a Civil War era surgeon, women’s rights advocate, and an abolitionist. Walker is the only woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • Pauli Murray was a poet, writer, activist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest, as well as a staunch advocate for civil rights, fighting against racial and sex discrimination. 
  • Zitkala-Ša (meaning “Red Bird”), also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was a writer, composer, educator, and political activist for Native Americans’ right to United States citizenship and other civil rights they had long been denied. 

“The women pioneered change during their lifetimes, not yielding to the status quo imparted during their lives. By honoring these pioneering women, the Mint continues to connect America through coins which are like small works of art in your pocket.”


Look for these quarters in your change. Or shop online and subscribe to this groundbreaking program to sign up to receive all four annual installments as they become available.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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