US Coins

Bill introduced for commemorative to honor poet Dunbar

Commemorative coins are being sought in Congress to recognize the contributions of African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar from Dayton, Ohio.

Image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

Legislation reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives seeks a three-coin commemorative program for 2026 to recognize the contributions of American writer Paul Laurence Dunbar from Dayton, Ohio.

H.R. 7861 was introduced April 2 by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., At Large. The bill seeks the production and release by the U.S. Mint in Proof and Uncirculated versions combined of up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 silver dollars and 750,000 copper-nickel clad half dollars. The bill, after introduction, was forwarded to the House Committee on Financial Services for further consideration.

Norton originally introduced legislation Nov. 9, 2021, H.R. 5940, seeking the three-coin program for calendar year 2023, but the bill failed to gain traction.

H.R. 7861 calls for the purchase price of each gold coin to include a $35 surcharge. Each silver dollar would carry a $10 surcharge, and each copper-nickel clad half dollar, a $5 surcharge. Net surcharges after the U.S. Mint recovers all of its production and associated costs would be paid to the Dunbar Alumni Association to provide scholarships and other financial support to students and graduates of Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School in Washington, D.C., the first public high school for African American students in the United States.

“I am a proud graduate of Dunbar, a storied African American high school in our country,” Norton said. “It was the first college preparatory high school for African American students in the United States. Paul Laurence Dunbar was revered by Americans as one of the greatest African American poets in our nation’s history. Minting a coin in his honor would be particularly fitting since his poetry captured African Americans in their own terms not long after slavery, while also raising funds for worthy causes undertaken by the Dunbar Alumni Federation.”

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