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?