Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Duke Ellington To Be Minted On US Coin - But Is He The "Best" Choice?

According to the AFP, “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.” But is Ellington the most “deserving” choice?

Don’t get me wrong, having a coin featuring any prominent African-American is a great thing; yet, wouldn’t it have been more meaningful to mint someone who has made a fundamental impact on social change or justice in this country? What, with such prominent African-Americans as Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Jessie Jackson, Booker T. Washington, Andrew Young, Barbara Jordan, Maynard Jackson, Maya Angelou, Mary Mcleod Bethune, et. Al., was the best the US Mint could do was immortalize a jazz singer?

Do I have a point or am I way off base here?


Anji said...

Rosa Parks!!

Perhaps a Jazz icon is less contraversial.

Iam Robert said...


Welcome back.

Ykes! I did forget Rosa...my bad.

And you know, you're probably right, it was a less controversial choice. But isn't there someone who represents middle ground?

T L said...

Before I commented, I decided I would do a little research to undersatnd the U. S. Mint's choice of Mr. Ellington for this coin. According to an AP press release, the coin is to commemorate the District of Columbia. Mr. Ellington beat out other DC notables such as abolitionist Frederick Douglass and astronomer Benjamin Banneker. The press release goes further to note that "[Ellington] and other black music legends, such as Ella Fitzgerald, helped establish the city's U Street as an entertainment corridor". D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton expressed that 'this sends a message that DC is more than just a government town.'

I also perused several articles about Mr. Ellington on the Net, nad he is always referred to as 'regal, stylish, genius' - jsut to name a few superlatives.

If the Mint was truly sincere about choosing a candidate that reflects the full character of DC, I think it could have found other African Americans who would have projected an equally powerful message.

Just one woman's opinion.

Iam Robert said...


I agree with both you and Anji. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Duke Ellington, but he is an entertainer. Putting him on the face of a coin is much like putting Muhammad Ali on one. In fact, not so, because Ali did much more to race the conciseness of a people-do you agree?

xMizz-Im- illyx said...

hmmm, that would interesting. But it really going to happen? I'll believe it when it does.

Iam Robert said...


Thanks for joining in the discussion!

Well, the US Mint has really been publizing this [see TL's comments], so I do hope they go through with it or with another notable choice.

You seem to have doubt about if they will; do feel they may not for some reason?