The first black female mayor of Washington DC, and the first female Democratic National Committee Treasurer.
Born as a third generation Washingtonian, to a Superior Court Judge. She lost her mother before turning 5 years old and was raised with her sister by their grandmother.
Her father encouraged her to follow his footsteps towards a career in public service. She studied Political Science and later Law at Howard University. There, at the age of 18, she met Arrington Dixon, a fellow student, who will become her first husband. She gave birth to their first daughter in 1968, the same year that she graduated with her Law degree.
She took motherhood as a priority and worked part-time until their two daughters were at school age – at her father’s law firm and lecturing at a law college.
She then started setting a list of firsts – in her activity in the Democratic Party until becoming first female Democratic National Committee Treasurer; and in her work, as she climbed the corporate ladder at PEPCO, Washington’s utility company, until becoming company’s vice president – the first female and first black in the position.
Her most notable public achievement was in 1989 when she decided to run for the mayor position of the Columbia District, winning with a record of 86%, becoming the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major American city.
She served in the office only one term, in which she faced challenges of internal resistance of the administration, and public opinion – criticizing her as “upper-class black princess” and scandalous spending of public money on makeup.
After coming third in the following elections, she went back to the private sector and in 2002 opened her own consulting company.
“I don’t have a lot of patience with people who sit on the sidelines”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- Her victory of the mayor elections was achieved despite having the smallest campaign budget, and thanks to an endorsement by the Washington Post.
- Her administration’s slogan was “Yes We Will!”.
- The same year as Pratt was elected as mayor, Eleanor Holmes Norton became the first African American woman elected to Congress from the District of Columbia.
- As a child, she played baseball daily and wanted to be an actress.
- Her favorite book is The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.
- She met and took a photograph with Queen Elizabeth of England.