By Jennifer L. Warren
HYDE PARK – Eleanor Roosevelt will soon be in the pockets of a wide span of people from all over the country…so to speak…
The former First Lady, human rights activist and philanthropist is slated to appear on a famous piece of United States currency, bearing the official distinction: The Eleanor Roosevelt quarter. The release of the symbolic coin filled the female icon’s great-granddaughter, Perrin Roosevelt Ireland, with unwavering pride and joy.
“I think Eleanor would be especially happy to be on the quarter, something more people are holding than $20 bills today,” said Roosevelt Ireland. “She really wanted to connect with as many people as possible; now she will really be able to do that, being right in their pockets.”
Thursday, at the Culinary Institute of America’s EcoLab Auditorium, an impressive-sized crowd of people of all ages turned out to take part in a tribute to the occasion: The Eleanor Roosevelt Quarter Celebration. Attended by members of the U.S. Mint, FDR Presidential Library, National Women’s History Museum, as well as students from Hyde Park elementary and middle schools, the hour plus long program not only saluted Roosevelt and the breadth of her accomplishments, but provided background on the American Women Quarter’s Program, aimed at celebrating the achievements and contributions of females. Roosevelt will be in reputable company; from 2022-2025, the US Mint will issue up to five new quarter designs with women at the epicenter.
“We see the work we do as something critical in connecting people to coins,” explained John Schorn, Chief Counsel, U.S. Mint. “Eleanor’s advocacy and role to promote human rights has inspired so many; we hope these coins will connect you to the history we all share as well as inspire you.”
That inspiration envelops the shiny, new silver piece. Featuring an image of Roosevelt in the center, she is surrounded by images of The Scales of Justice as well as globe along with empowering words of; “Eleanor Roosevelt,” “United States of America,” “Pluribus Unum,” and “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Encompassing so much of what Roosevelt held dear to her heart and strived to instill in others, the engraved visuals and words carry a deep reflection of this trailblazer woman.
“Looking at my great-grandmother’s diaries, she was really ‘packing it’ in what she did each day, and what really inspires me is her belief and commitment to participation, such as writing back to people who expressed concerns to her husband,” said Roosevelt Ireland. “Her Aunt once said about her that she didn’t have much of a chance coming from such a terrible childhood, and to see how her life started off and who she was to become is so important and inspiring.”
Also part of the Program was a panel discussion, allowing members to share their lenses of how Roosevelt impacted their journeys as well as the significance of the upcoming release of not only this coin but others bearing women pioneers and their lasting imprints on the framework of this country.
“A coin should reflect what is important to a society; women have been far underrepresented on them,” said Michelle Thompson, of the U.S. Mint., who added that Roosevelt was not selected for a quarter due to her First Lady status rather because she was a fighter for all people, a true inspiration. “We have never had a circulating program with women on it; it’s truly groundbreaking when you do see them, as it shows you that women matter.”