Celia Cruz Gets ‘Quartered’

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After defecting from Cuba and being banned from reentry by Castro, singer Celia Cruz, the ‘Queen of Salsa,’ lived in Fort Lee with her partner, Pedro Knight for the rest of her life. Part of New York’s Latin music community for a following forty-two years, this powerhouse vocalist (Cruz recorded nearly two hundred songs with the Cuban orchestra Sonora Matancera and earned twenty-three alums) is now being honored with a United States Mint quarter, one of five ladies who have been named for the same honor from the American Women Quarters Program’s series.

In addition to her singing career, Cruz made appearances in Mexican movies, collaborated with Tito Puente, and won three Grammys. One of her iconic colorful dresses is actually on display at the Smithsonian. The lady died of cancer in 2003and just last year, the Forked River Service Area on the Garden State Parkway was dedicated to Cruz. 

To be fair, I’m not so up on Latin music or Cruz specifically. I read this article on this most recent happening, but it’s a well-deserved honor to a very talented lady who called New Jersey home after leaving the place of her birth. Surely, too many of these honors happen posthumously, and a long and hard argument could be given on how we do not give the proper recognition to great talents (men and women both) when they are due. But granting Celia Cruz, a quarter is still very nice.

And sometimes, being nice is, well…damn nice.

Launched in 2022, the American Women Quarters Program is in its second year of a four-year run. It was created to bring awareness to female trailblazers in history from a wide variety of fields. Cruz is one of twenty ladies predicted to fill out the program’s work through 2025.  

The AWQP issued its first quarter, beginning its circulation, early last year. The lady honored with the first coin was writer Maya Angelou.

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