US Coins

Legislation seeking new 2024 commemorative coin program

Circa 1900 photograph of James Weldon Johnson.

Library of Congress image by Underwood & Underwood from National Association for the Advancement of Colored People archives.

Legislation has been introduced for a three-denomination commemorative coin program for 2024 to recognize African-American newspaper publisher, music composer and diplomat James Weldon Johnson.

H.R. 7459, introduced in the House April 7 by Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., seeks the production and release in Proof and Uncirculated versions of up to 50,000 gold $5 coins, 400,000 silver dollars and 750,000 copper-nickel clad half dollars.

After introduction, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services for further consideration.

At age 24, Johnson established Florida’s first African-American newspaper, The Daily American, in Jacksonville in 1895.

Johnson became the first African-American to pass the Florida bar to practice law when he was admitted in 1897.

Theodore Roosevelt, after winning election to the presidency in 1906, appointed Johnson as U.S. consul in Venezuela.

Three years later, President William Howard Taft named Johnson as U.S. consul in Nicaragua.

Following his diplomatic service, Johnson became a field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1916. In 1920, Johnson became the NAACP’s first African-American executive secretary.

After serving the NAACP for a decade, Johnson became a professor at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He later became the first black professor at New York University.

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