Duke Ellington first African American to solo on coin

Jazz icon Duke Ellington has become the first African American to appear solo on a US coin intended for everyday use, officials at the US Mint said Tuesday after a celebration to mark the quarter-dollar's release.
"He's the first African American to feature solo and the second African American to feature on a circulating coin," Carla Coolman, a spokeswoman for the US Mint, told AFP.

"The first African American on a circulating coin was York, a slave who was depicted on a Missouri quarter alongside explorers Lewis and Clark. There have been other African Americans on commemorative coins," Coolman said.
The Duke Ellington High School Jazz Band played at an event at the National Museum of American History to celebrate the Washington DC quarter with Ellington's image on one side. The coin was released last month.
"Like many great Americans who succeed in what they love doing, Duke Ellington was equal parts talent, hard work, passion and perseverance," US Mint director Ed Moy told the gathering at the museum on the National Mall, which included members of Ellington's family, originally from Washington.
"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," Moy said.

Tuesday, February 24th 2009

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