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Negro History Bulletin, April-June 1998 | Go to article overview

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United States Mint to Sell Black Patriot Commemorative Coins

Coin sales can help build first African American Memorial on National Mall

In accordance with legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton on October 20, 1996, the United States Mint is authorized to issue 500,000 U.S. silver dollar commemorative coins honoring Black Revolutionary War Patriots and the 275th anniversary of the birth of the first Black Revolutionary War Patriot, Crispus Attucks. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the coins are authorized to be used to help support the construction of the Black Patriots Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The proposed site is near the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials, where more than 200,000 people heard Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

"The Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Dollar will recall and commemorate history by focusing on Crispus Attucks' sacrifice as a symbol of the commitment of all black American patriots," said Philip N. Diehl, director of the U.S. Mint.

The coins represent the patriotic sacrifices of all African Americans by featuring a family from the Revolutionary War period on the reverse side of the coin. Buyers may call 1-800-MINT-USA to be placed on the mailing list to receive order forms. Additional information is available on the Mint's Web site

at www.usmint.gov.

The obverse of the coin, designed by U.S. Mint sculptor/engraver John Mercanti, depicts an impression of Crispus Attucks. After escaping from slavery in 1750, Attucks was the first patriot killed in the Boston Massacre of 1770, an event which many historians believe triggered the Revolutionary War. Mr. Mercanti has designed numerous coins and medals, and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia College of Art, and Fleisher Art Memorial School.

The reverse of the coin, designed by Ed Dwight features an black patriot family. This design, which is a rendering of a sculpture that will appear in the proposed Black Patriots Memorial, honors not only African American soldiers, but also the families who supported their fight for freedom. Dwight, the first African American to be trained as an astronaut, is also the designer and sculptor of the proposed memorial, Dwight's work appears in private collections and major museums, including the Smithsonian Institution. He has created more than 55 monuments and memorials dedicated to important African Americans.

The coins currently available for purchase feature a limited edition young collectors coin set, and an uncirculated silver dollar with entertaining and informative information on Crispus Attucks and the Revolutionary War. Also offered is a Black Patriots Coin-and-Stamp set with a proof silver dollar and U.S. Postal Service stamps which spotlight other notable African Americans including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Banneker and Salem Poor.

Two African Americans Receive MacArthur Fellowships

Two African Americans are among the twenty-nine new MacArthur Fellows recently announced by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. They are Charles Johnson--a novelist, short story writer, essayist, cartoonist, and screenwriter--and Ishmael Reed, a literary innovator who works in a variety of genres.

The new MacArthur Fellows will receive stipends ranging from $225,000 to $375,000 over five years depending on the age of the recipient. Johnson will receive $305,000 and Reed will receive $355,000. MacArthur Fellowships are "no strings attached" awards, and recipients are free to use the awards as they wish. The MacArthur Foundation imposes no reporting requirements or restrictions of any kind on MacArthur Fellows.

"The creative person is at the heart of a society's capacity to improve the human condition," said Adele Simmons, MacArthur Foundation president. "By supporting these Fellows, highly talented individuals working in a wide range of fields, the Foundation means to honor creative persons everywhere. …

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