Duke Ellington Gets His 25 Cents Worth

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

At a news conference held yesterday at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, the mint revealed the District of Columbia quarter, which features famous DC resident, Duke Ellington.











After releasing the final state quarter in November, the U.S. mint is now in the process of issuing six new quarter designs, one to honor the District of Columbia and five to honor U.S.territories. At a news conference held yesterday at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, the mint revealed the District of Columbia quarter, which features famous DC resident, Duke Ellington.

Ellington, born in DC in 1899, is famous for his role in the swing era of jazz. An original composer of over 3,000 songs including “Satin Doll,” “Perdido,” “Don’t Get Around Much Any More,” “Take the A Train” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” Ellington won thirteen Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize during his extensive musical career.

District residents voted for the DC quarter design, selecting Ellington instead of the other offered choices of Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Banneker. Ellington’s appearance marks the first time that an African-American has appeared by himself on a circulating US coin. Situated below the composer’s picture, positioned in front of a piano, is the district’s motto “Justice for all.” Residents actually voted for the phrase “taxation without representation,” but the mint rejected the selection for fear of stirring controversy.

Already in circulation since January 26, U.S. mint director Ed Moy noted, “When Americans look at this coin, they will remember the man and his art, as well as the place where both were born and nurtured — the District of Columbia.”


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