Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Women Honored on Quarters

May 21, 2024
Three quarters on a white background.

The quarter designs featuring Edith Kanaka’ole, Patsy Mink, and Anna May Wong.  

The Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum has partnered with the U.S. Mint to create the American Women Quarters Program, a four-year program celebrating the accomplishments and contributions made by women in the United States. Started in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint will release five quarters every year featuring women from a variety of fields, including suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. This month, we’re highlighting the legacies of three Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women who have been featured in the American Women Quarters Program: Anna May Wong (2022), Edith Kanaka’ole (2023), and Patsy Takemoto Mink (2024).   

Stacey Park Milbern, activist for people with disabilities, will be honored on a quarter in 2025.  

Anna May Wong 

The first Chinese American film star, Anna May Wong began gracing the silver screen during the Roaring Twenties amid the early years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. 

A third generation Chinese American, Wong was born Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles, California, in 1905. As a young girl, she became fascinated by the film and acting industry. Frequently, she would visit Hollywood sets during filming, squeezing through crowds to get the best view. “I’d stare at these glamorous individuals,” she remembered, “and then I would rush home and do the scenes I had witnessed before a mirror.” 

Learn more here. 

Edith Kanakaʻole 

Composer and educator Edith Kanaka‘ole perpetuated Native Hawaiian history, culture, and traditions through lifelong teachings. Edith Kanaka‘ole was born in 1913 in Honomū, in the Hilo district of Hawaiʻi island. Her mother taught her hula, and her father taught her about the uses of local herbs and plants. Her father would often sing and play a variety of instruments while her mother would dance hula.  

In 1953, following the passing of her mother, Kanaka‘ole founded her own hula hālau (hula school) named Hālau o Kekuhi. It became an internationally recognized dance company known for the ‘aiha‘a, a low postured, bombastic style of hula associated with the fire goddess Pele. Kanakaʻole also assisted in the development of the first Hawaiian language program for public school students at Keaukaha Elementary School, as well as the school's Hawaiian Studies kupuna (elder) mentorship program. 

Learn more here. 

Patsy Mink 

The Honorable Patsy Mink was a pioneering American politician known for her groundbreaking achievements and steadfast commitment to social justice. Born in Hawaii in 1927, she became the first woman of color and the first Asian American woman elected to the United States Congress. She served as a representative for Hawaii from 1965 to 1977 and again from 1990 until her death in 2002.  

Mink is best remembered as the principal author of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a groundbreaking legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs. She was a passionate advocate for civil rights, gender equality, and education reform.  

Learn more here.