Two new bills, one in the U.S. Senate and the other in the U.S. House of Representatives, seek to introduce a maximum of 1,000 silver $1 coins in 2010 "commemoration of the opening of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, each of which shall."
Observers of coin legislation will quickly ponder the lateness in introduction and the extremely unusual 1,000 mintage limit. Yet that is exactly what is described in both bills, each named the International Civil Rights Center and Museum Commemorative Coin Act. If the legislation moves beyond their respective assigned chamber committees, expect limits to be more aptly applied.
The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is located at the site of the F.W. Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, where a sit-in movement began to protest private-sector segregation in the United States. On February 1, 1960, 4 African-American students of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University sat at a white-only lunch counter inside the store in a non-violent protest. By August of 1961, more than 70,000 people had participated in sit-ins and sit-down demonstrations in more than 60 cities throughout the Southeast.
The museum will open Feb. 1, 2010, on the anniversary of the beginning of the sit-in movement.
The idea of a commemorative coin to celebrate the opening and help fund the museum operation was conceived by a local advocate, Eddie Bridges, according to news-record.com. Mr. Bridges, the founder and executive director of the N.C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation, actually posed the idea of a commemorative 50-cent coin.
The Senate version of the bill, S. 1819, was introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan on Oct. 21. The identical House version, H.R. 3912, was introduced on Oct. 22.
As is almost always typical with legislation involving commemorative coinage, few details of coin design are included. The design would be "emblematic of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum" and include the inscriptions "2010", "Liberty", "In God We Trust", "United States of American" and "E Pluribus Unum". The silver dollars would weigh 26.73 grams, have a diameter of 1.5000 inches, and contain 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.
A $10 surcharge for each coin would be paid to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, to be made available for program development and research.
For coin legislation to become law, it must pass in the House, Senate and receive the President’s signature.