Late last week, the United States Mint announced the design selections for the upcoming 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Silver Dollar. The coin is issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The authorizing legislation provides that the designs for the coin “shall be emblematic of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its contribution to civil rights in America.”
Initially, the US Mint had prepared a wide field of 15 different obverse and 10 different reverse designs. These were reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). The two groups made recommendations for different pairs of designs. The final design selections ended up following the CFA’s preferred obverse and the CCAC’s preferred reverse.
The selected obverse design features a depiction of three people holding hands at a civil rights march. The man holds a sign which reads “We Shall Overcome”. This image is intended to be symbolic of all marches that helped galvanize the civil rights movement. Additional inscriptions read “Liberty”, “2014”, and “In God We Trust”.
This was the obverse design candidate endorsed by the CFA as well as the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), which is the beneficiary organization for the commemorative coin program. The CFA did make recommendations that the protester’s sign should be moved from the coin edge and the size of the word “Liberty” should be reduced. It appears that these recommendations were not followed. The UNCF recommended that the diversity of the people depicted should be increased. It appears that this recommendation was followed, as the figure to the right of the composition is changed from the original.
The CCAC had recommended an alternate obverse design depicting the March on Washington inside a silhouette of the Liberty Bell with reverberating bands and the inscription “Let Freedom Ring”. The group had specifically shifted their focus away from the designs depicting protests since the design requirements from the authorizing legislation called for the designs to commemorate both the act and its contribution to the nation and the contribution is something that could not have happened prior to its enactment.
The selected reverse design for the 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Silver Dollar features three flames intertwined to symbolize freedom of education, freedom to vote, and the freedom to control one’s own destiny. The design was inspired by a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., “They get the fire hose. They fail to realize that water can only put out physical fire. But water can never drown the fire of freedom.” Inscriptions read “Civil Rights Act of 1964”, “Signed into Law July 2, 1964”, “E Pluribus Unum”, “One Dollar”, and “United States of America”.
This was the reverse design candidate recommended by the CCAC. They did suggest that the cauldron at the base of the flames should be enlarged or emphasized. This suggestion was followed, as the cauldron appears larger than in the original design candidate image.
The CFA and UNCF had recommended a different reverse design featuring a graduation cap and tassel, intended to represent the initial thrust of the civil rights movement when the NAACP challenged the “separate but equal” doctrine with Brown vs. Board of Education. A partial quote “…for All of God’s Children.” appears in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Silver Dollars carry a maximum mintage of 350,000 across proof and uncirculated versions. The coins are scheduled to go on sale January 2, 2014. Additional coverage will be provided prior to the release.