Celia Cruz, coin, afro-latina

Celia Cruz Honored As The First Afro-Latina To Be On A U.S. Coin

The “Queen of Salsa” is being honored in a historic way. Celia Cruz, an acclaimed Latin musical artist, has been selected to be featured on the U.S. coin as part of the American Women Quarters series and will be the first Afro-Latina woman to do so.

An international sensation, Cruz gained recognition for the crossover ability of her Spanish-language songs that became global hits. Her storied career features multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy awards and the National Medal of Arts granted to her by the U.S. Congress in 1994.

The icon is of Black and Cuban ancestry, born in the island country before moving to the United States while her career took off. According to NBC News, her many historic feats include being the first Afro-Cuban to sing in Spanish on U.S. television and to perform at Carnegie Hall.

A fashion icon in her own right, the collection of dresses she wore to performances was highly coveted, as the Smithsonian American Art Museum has preserved 30% of the more than a hundred dresses to be maintained and displayed through its care. Her stage presence included extravagant clothing and numerous wigs to keep up with her energetic voice. She is also being honored with a Barbie doll.

The multifaceted legend died at 77 due to complications from cancer and was laid to rest in The Bronx, New York. A year before her passing, she received her final Grammy Award for Best Salsa Album in recognition of her last project, Regalo del Alma.

Her legacy remains prominent, with her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame still beloved, and her dedication to education in the arts fulfilled at the Celia Cruz Bronx High School Of Music in New York City.

Cruz’s representation of Black people of Latin descent will be physically solidified through this honor, as her coin will symbolize a marginalized identity uplifted and championed through her platform. Her coin is set to be released for public viewing and collection in 2024.

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