Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Edward Kennedy Ellington, Representing the District

Edward Kennedy Ellington made a little news a few weeks ago and I just realized it last night. National news outlets have reported that, for the first time, an African-American was featured on a piece of U.S. coinage meant for widespread circulation. And it's thanks to D.C.'s submission to the State Quarters program.

The "Duke" was born here and called the District home for 20+ years before reaching worldwide acclaim through music. He was among a handful of performers whose legacies still mark large swaths of the city and established a musical heritage here in the District. When the DC was awarded a special State Quarter (actually, we're part of the D.C. and U.S. Territories Quarter Program), I was happy that we went with an actual person and a relatively contemporary figure at that. Some states chose animals, others geographical features, and a couple did choose historically significant Americans. Several states chose, well, themselves. But Duke Ellington embodies much of what DC was about and is about and the choice was a perfect one. Now to get my hands on one of the quarters. And more music like this: