Duke Ellington Quarters for Duke Ellington School of the Arts

by Alexis Baden-Mayer


Support Duke Ellington School of the Arts by wearing your very own genuine 2009 Duke Ellington D.C. quarter necklace! It can be yours for a contribution of $20 or more. Every dollar donated here will go to the Museum Studies department so that each student can travel to Los Angeles this Spring for a unique tour of the city's incredible art scene and prestigious universities.

In 2009, jazz musician Duke Ellington became the first black American to be prominently featured on a U.S. coin in circulation with the release of a quarter honoring the District of Columbia. The coin with Ellington resting his elbow on a piano includes the D.C. motto "Justice for All."

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born and raised in Washington. He and other black music legends, such as Ella Fitzgerald, helped establish the city's U Street as an entertainment corridor.

Prior to the Ellington quarter, the only U.S. coin to depict a black person was a 2003 Missouri state coin that featured explorers Lewis and Clark with a black slave named York. Commemorative coins have also featured black figures but those coins weren't put into circulation.