The Changing Face of Liberty
No matter how hard we try, why does it always feel like Americans have such a hard time dealing with change?
From the biggest social and economic issues to the smallest of details in our large country, change rarely comes easy, especially when it (seems to) only benefit specific groups, at least at surface level.
It isn’t always easy to look ahead with forethought while being able to see the larger picture, as many of us need to focus on the here and now in order to support ourselves and often our families. And while anybody could be the impetus of a large, life-changing movement or event, we often don’t act on our convictions or dreams due to fear of failure or the basic reality that we can’t just drop everything because we feel like it.
Many of the biggest figureheads of the American experiment today gave their lives for the fight for freedom and liberty, a fight which is never-ending, no matter how safe our secure our democracy may seem to be. But as the American population and our understanding of liberty continue to change, shouldn’t we reflect this growth in some emblematic way?
The U.S. Mint and Treasury just unveiled a new coin featuring a black Lady Liberty, and the backlash is startling, albeit completely unsurprising.
An Anniversary Celebration
Founded in 1792, the United States Mint turns 225 this year and is celebrating its anniversary with a commemorative gold coin sure to excite any coin collector.
Starting with a kickoff ceremony held last week, the Mint plans to hold a year of events honoring the Mint’s storied history. Hosted by the Department of the Treasury and the Mint, the ceremony touched on the importance of the agency, which produces coinage for the country but not paper money.
“We are very proud of the fact that the United States Mint is rooted in the Constitution. Our founding fathers realized the critical need for our fledgling nation to have a respected monetary system, and over the last 225 years, the Mint has never failed in its mission,” commented Principal Deputy Director Jeppson in his remarks.
It sounds like your run-of-the-mill government agency anniversary, and most people would probably find the whole thing pretty boring if it weren’t for one small detail.
On the new coin, Lady Liberty is depicted as a black woman.
The New Face of Liberty
Throughout our history, we’ve seen Lady Liberty depicted myriad ways on official propaganda, but more often than not she remains reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty. Never before have we seen the character officially personified as a black woman.
With Lady Liberty on the obverse (heads side) and a soaring eagle on the back, the Mint wrote on its Facebook page that the “design features a profile view of allegorical Liberty in the form of a young African American woman wearing a crown of stars. The woman is emblematic of Liberty and the crown of stars that she wears is based on the crown of the Statue of Freedom that is atop the Capitol dome.”
Sadly, such a slight but meaningful change already has people up in arms.
E pluribus unum
Worth $100, the one-ounce coins are struck in .9999 fine 24-karat gold and will be available for purchase on April 6. Voted on by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts, the design comes from Justin Kunz of the Mint Artistic Infusion Program. The Mint will produce 100,000 of the gold coins, available at a sale price of about $1,500, with identical coins struck in silver to follow.
And there isn’t just one design. According to a press release from the Mint, “The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin is the first in a series of 24-karat gold coins that will feature designs which depict an allegorical Liberty in a variety of contemporary forms-including designs representing Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Indian-Americans among others-to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States.” The coins will be released every two years.
Though many appreciate the new coin as a fair and progressive design that fairly reflects the changing face of our nation, many simply cannot handle the diversity they feel is being forced upon them. Here’s what some people are saying…