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Ellington hits right chord on D.C. quarter

Jazz great “Duke” Ellington was the man of the hour as the release of the District of Columbia commemorative quarter was celebrated Feb. 24.

United States Mint Director Ed Moy joined Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton for a press conference at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History to celebrate the release of the coin.

The coin’s reverse bears the image of legendary composer, musician and District of Columbia native Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. 

“Like many great Americans who succeed in what they love doing, Duke Ellington was equal parts talent, hard work, passion and perseverance,” said Moy.

“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.”

National Museum of American History Director Brent Glass, National Museum of African American History and Culture Director Lonnie Bunch and members of the Ellington family were on hand to celebrate the release of the quarter struck in honor of the District of Columbia. One of the highlights included a performance by the Duke Ellington High School Jazz Band.

Following the press conference, Norton and Moy handed out newly minted District of Columbia quarters to school children in attendance.

The District of Columbia quarter, released to the public Jan. 26, is the first coin in the 2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Program.  Inscriptions on the reverse are DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DUKE ELLINGTON and JUSTICE FOR ALL, the district’s motto. The coin’s reverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program master designer Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by sculptor-engraver Don Everhart.

The District of Columbia quarter press conference was held in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Scurlock Exhibit, currently on display, which features photographs that present a vivid portrait of black Washington, D.C.  The exhibit includes a picture of Duke Ellington, sheet music and other artifacts acquired from the Ellington estate.


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