The U.S. Mint released Alabama’s quarter recognizing and honoring the Tuskegee Airmen January 5th. This rounds out a ten year campaign that teaches us a little history and geography along the way. Keep reading to see the quarter that acknowledges the men who fought two wars at once. Find out why it couldn’t have come at a more significant time.
The U.S. Mint released its first series of quarters representing the 50 states and territories back in 1999. Even non-collectors paid attention to the change in their pockets to see what 25-cent treasures lurked among the lint. The campaign’s popularity birthed the National Park series in 2010, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Alabama’s quarter goes into circulation today, so be on the lookout for this little piece of history.
America the Beautiful
Technically, the series is not just national parks. The United States Mint America the Beautiful program also includes other kinds of national sites. Examples include recreation areas, national forests, memorials, monuments, shrines, parkways, wildlife refuges, scenic riverways, lakeshores and seashores. The quarters have been issued in the order in which each site was established, making Alabama the last of the 56 quarters.
A Pocketful of History
You could say Birmingham attorney and author Jim Noles wrote the book on the quarters series. Literally. His 2009 book, A Pocketful of History, takes a deep dive into 400 years of American history “one quarter at a time”. Noles is particularly pleased with Alabama’s choice of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.
“The timing of the release of Alabama’s quarter was, after the year we had in 2020, really fortuitous, It is good to have such a hold-in-your-hand reminder of the role that Alabama played in this important chapter of America’s Civil Rights history. As the quarter says, the Tuskegee Airmen ‘fought two wars’ – one against segregation at home, and one against the Nazis abroad.”Jim Noles, author of A Pocketful of History: 400 Years of America – One State Quarter at a Time.
The timing for this is perfect. For in the shadow of our collective racial awareness brought forth through the Black Lives Matter movement, learning about the Tuskegee Airmen helps us develop a fuller understanding of the American experience during World War II. Not only were these brave pilots flying in the face of danger abroad, they were also courageous Black men fighting for their civil rights back at home.
Though the bookstore has reopened in Hangar 1, touring the actual Tuskegee Airmen Museum itself will have to wait ,thanks to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. I plan to tour the museum myself. It should come as no surprise that in addition to collecting national park quarters, I’m obsessed with collecting national park passport stamps, too! We can dream of the days ahead when we can head out and explore the corners of Alabama, but for now, keep the change. You just might have some history in your pocket!
Read more about the U.S. Mint’s state quarters program.