Duke Ellington was a musician active during the Harlem Renaissance. He was born as Edward Kennedy Ellington on April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. His parents brought him up as a gentleman, which earned him the nickname "Duke". Both of his parents were pianists, so it was only natural that he picked up the instrument himself at the early age of seven. In the 1920s, Ellington moved to Harlem and started to play shows at The Cotton Club.
Though he mainly focused on jazz, Ellington's music spanned many genres, including blues, gospel, and classical. During his 50-year career Ellington composed over a thousand pieces and was a widespread influence on jazz music.
Duke Ellington represents the Harlem Renaissance theme of pride. He believed that representing African-American culture in a positive way was the best way to fight racism.