Celia Cruz
Representational image. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Legendary singer Celia Cruz to become the first Afro-Latina to appear on the U.S. quarter. The late Cuban American singer was also known as the Queen of Salsa due to her contributions to Latin music.

A prominent figure in Latin music during the 20th century, Cruz became a household name by releasing more than 80 albums. According to the Smithsonian Institution, she was honored with the President's National Medal of Arts, three Grammy Awards, four Latin Grammy Awards, and 23 gold albums. At the 2016 Grammys, she was also given a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.

Cruz, who was born in Havana in 1925, started singing in the 1940s. After a concert tour in Mexico, she was exiled to the United States following the 1959 Cuban revolution. Cruz became a well-known star and contributed to the growth of salsa and Latin music in general, despite the fact that male artists predominated the genre, NBC news reported.

During the last years of her career, Cruz continued to release successful songs such as "La vida es un carnaval" and "La negra tiene tumbao." In addition to her prolific career in music, Cruz also made several appearances as an actress in movies and telenovelas.

Cruz and four other women were chosen by the U.S. Mint to be the 2024 honorees for the American Women Quarters Program.

The other women are Patsy Takemoto Mink of Hawaii, the first woman of color to serve in Congress; Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a Civil War-era surgeon, women's rights advocate, and abolitionist; the Rev. Pauli Murray, a poet, writer, activist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest; and Zitkala-Ša, also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, a writer, composer, educator and political activist for Native Americans' right to U.S. citizenship and other civil rights.

From 2022 through 2025, five quarters will be produced annually by the Mint in recognition of "ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse individuals." The women come from a variety of professions, including suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, the humanities, science, space, and the arts.

"All of 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," Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson said in a news release.

"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," Gibson added.

The designs for the 2024 American Women Quarters will be released in mid-2023.

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