U.S. Mint Presents its New Bessie Coleman Commemorative Quarter to the FAA

Friday, February 24, 2023

FAA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., was the site of a truly special moment on Tuesday when the U.S. Mint presented a new quarter honoring aviator Bessie Coleman to FAA officials.

The coin, presented by Ventris Gibson, former FAA chief human capital officer and now director of the U.S. Mint, occurred in the most fitting of places — The Bessie Coleman Room — and at the most fitting of times, Black History Month.

In opening remarks, Deputy Administrator Brad Mims, said, "As someone who’s deeply invested in diversity, equity, access, and inclusion, the Bessie Coleman coin feels like a gift from the past. It’s a valuable symbol of an important chapter in U.S. aviation history."

In presenting the coin, Gibson said Bessie Coleman "defied the odds and … became an aviator. Her tenacious drive and fearless personality helped pave the way for future generations of aviators and for women."

Recalling his own awakening to the world of aviation as a small child, Acting Administrator Billy Nolen noted "there's no telling what will spark a child's imagination and literally make them take flight. As someone who is concerned about aviation’s workforce and how we will meet the needs of our country in the future, I am always buoyed and excited by these kinds of stories," because they’re about the key moments that bring people into aviation. Perhaps, he intimated, the new coin will do just that for someone in the future. 

Rotating image of Bessie Coleman quarter

The coin is the first issued this year under the Mint’s "American Women Quarters Program." Coleman was the first licensed African American and Native American female pilot, and the first African American to earn an international pilot’s license. 

The reverse (tails) side of the quarter depicts Bessie Coleman as she suits up in preparation for flight. Her expression is reflective of her determination to take to the skies, the only place she experienced a freedom she did not have on the ground. Among the inscriptions is "6.15.1921," the date Coleman received her pilot’s license.

Watch a video from the U.S. Mint of the Bessie Coleman quarter design and production: