Locals push for park to be named after jazz legend

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Community members are putting their support behind a movement to re-name a triangle-shaped park located in the West End after jazz legend Duke Ellington.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A passed a resolution Feb. 17 in support of giving the now-unnamed park on New Hampshire Avenue, M and 21st streets an official name: Duke Ellington Park.

Triangle Park, as it has been informally labeled, is located just a stone’s throw away from the jazz legend’s birthplace, 2129 Ward Place.

“It’s quite an opportunity to be able to honor [Duke Ellington] with the naming of the triangle park closest to his childhood home,” said Rebecca Coder, the ANC’s chairwoman, in an e-mail. ANC 2A serves the Foggy Bottom and West End neighborhoods.

“Given the ANC’s unanimous support, the next step is to submit this to the D.C. Council. I will ask Councilmember [Jack] Evans to sponsor it. I don’t yet have a clear sense on timing,” Coder told The Hatchet.

During the ANC meeting Feb. 17, Anita Diliberto, an advisory board member for West End Friends, explained her group’s proposal. “We feel that he needs to be recognized in this area, in the West End,” she said.

Diliberto said once the park is named, her group would like to have a celebration in his honor and may make the festival an annual event. Gary Griffith, secretary of West End Friends, said in an e-mail that they hope to have a jazz group play in the park on Ellington’s birthday.

“We will also be asking each of the restaurants and hotels in the West End to celebrate that day by playing Duke Ellington’s music, either recorded or live,” he said.

Acknowledged as one of jazz’s greatest, Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born April 29, 1899. His 50-year career brought him fame not only in the United States, but also around the world. Ellington’s contribution to jazz earned him 13 Grammy awards and a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died at age 75 May 24, 1974.

“To think that such a person was born in our neighborhood should bring enormous pride to all of us,” Dick Golden, program host of “GW Presents American Jazz” on Sirius-XM satellite radio, said at the ANC meeting.

The District is scattered with tributes to Ellington, including the Duke Ellington School of Arts in Georgetown. Last year, the U.S. Mint released a quarter honoring D.C. that features Ellington. He is the first black American to be prominently featured on a U.S. coin in circulation.

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