In 2009, during the 111th Congress, companion bills were introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives that called for a commemorative silver dollar to mark the opening of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. The bills included a rather unique specification...
The Senate bill was introduced by Kay Hagan (D-NC) on October 21, 2009 and immediately referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The House bill was introduced by Brad Miller (D-NC) on October 22, 2009. He introduced it for himself and nine colleagues; it was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.
The bills shared a common Findings section:
"The Congress finds that--
(1) on February 1, 1960, 4 African-American students of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University sat at a white-only lunch counter inside a Greensboro, North Carolina F.W. Woolworth's store;
(2) the Greensboro sit-in catalyzed a wave of nonviolent protest against private-sector segregation in the United States that became a hallmark of the American civil rights movement;
(3) 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;
(4) the International Civil Rights Center and Museum is located at the site of the F.W. Woolworth's store where the sit-in movement began;
(5) the International Civil Rights Center and Museum will serve as an archival center and teaching facility exploring the international struggle for civil and human rights, preserving the legacy of the movement for the Nation and future generations; and
(6) the International Civil Rights Center and Museum will officially open on February 1, 2010, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the sit-in movement."
The unusual thing about the bills is their requested mintage - the bills requested "not more than 1,000 $1 coins." I don't recall another mintage request so low!
The bills allowed for Proof and Uncirculated coins to be minted at a single facility of the US Mint, with a stated preference for the facility at West Point, NY. The coins were to carry a $10 per coin surcharge to be paid to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum for its use in "program development and research."
I have to believe the request for just 1,000 coins was an error that would have been corrected before one of the bills was authorized. A request for 100,000 or 1,000,000 coins seems much more likely (and worthwhile!). A simple typo? A potential benefit of just $10,000 hardly seems worth the effort to get a bill introduced. I have wondered if the Museum had requested the limited mintage with the intention of buying them all from the Mint and then auctioning them off to the highest bidder. Many coin collectors and/or museum supporters would have likely driven the unit cost beyond issue price, IMO.
Neither bill was ever reported by its respective Committee, however, so no changes to its specifications were ever considered/recorded. Its potential is a matter of history with unanswered questions.
The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is open today in Greensboro, NC and visitors can see the original (restored) F. W. Woolworth's lunch counter (referenced above) along with multiple exhibits focused on the Civil Rights Movement and those who have supported it. The commemorative silver dollar was not needed to bring the museum concept to fruition.
You can learn more about the Museum by visiting:
For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including other modern US commemorative coin What If? stories, see: Commems Collection