Women You Should Know: Sharon Pratt

Meet the first African American woman to serve as mayor of a major U.S. city

By: Taren Vaughan

One of the highest populated cities in the United States is Washington, D.C. D.C. is commonly known as the “Chocolate City” due to its large number of African American residents. Most importantly, it is the birthplace of its first black female mayor Sharon Pratt.

Pratt was born on January 30, 1944 to D.C. Supreme Court judge Carlisle Edward Pratt and Mildred Pratt. Following her father’s politic footsteps, Sharon Pratt received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University.

At the start of her political career, Pratt focused her attention on politics that directly affected D.C. As a member of the Democratic National Committees from D.C. from 1977 to 1990, she was the first woman to hold that position. Pratt made history once again in 1983 when she became Vice President of Community Relations at Pepco.

Her reign as mayor of Washington, D.C. began on January 2, 1991. As mayor of D.C., Pratt sought to cut city employment payroll and improve the financial situation of the city. Although she made political history, Pratt lacked support from some people because she was a fair skinned African American woman. Marion Barry defeated Pratt in the 1994 Democratic primary, regaining his position as city mayor.

Currently, Pratt is involved in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness planning through her company Pratt Consulting. Some of her awards include Falk Fellow, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award, and the Congressional Black Caucus’ and the Mary McLeod Bethune-W.E.B. Du Bois Award.

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