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The story behind Duke Ellington being denied the Pulitzer Prize in 1965—and what's being done about it now.

Duke Ellington at the piano, circa 1940.
John Kobal Foundation
/
Getty Images
Duke Ellington at the piano, circa 1940.

A campaign is underway to posthumously award the great Duke Ellington with the Pulitzer Prize in Music—an honor that he was denied back in 1965.

Jazz writer Ted Gioia started the campaign this past week with an online petition and the compelling backstory revealing why Ellington was rejected by the Pulitzer Advisory Board despite being recommended by the Music Jury. It's a deep dive worth taking! Check out the story here.

Gioia's online petition has already gone viral. More than 12,000 fans have signed it, including past Pulitzer winners Philip Glass, John Adams, Caroline Shaw, William Bolcom, Steve Reich, David Lang, and more.

At WRTI, we're 100% behind this cause and hope that you will be, too. All that has to happen for Ellington to receive the Pulitzer is for the current Board to accept the Music Jury's recommendation from 1965. Perhaps this petition will make a difference! Please take a minute to sign and share.