On this day in 1990, Sharon Pratt Dixon was elected mayor of Washington, D.C., making her the first female mayor of any race.
Born on January 30, 1944, Pratt attended public school in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Roosevelt High School with honors in 1961. Originally, she wanted to pursue an acting career, but instead, she went on to attend Howard University where she earned her B.A. in Political Science. After graduating in 1965, she enrolled in Howard University’s School of Law and earned her law degree.
Pratt then worked in a private practice from 1971 to 1976, focusing on custodial cases and providing legal representation for juveniles. During her time at the firm, she was named Professor of Law at the Antioch School of Law, a position that she held for four years.
In 1976, she began working for Potomac Electric Power Company, eventually becoming Vice President of Public Policy, making her the first woman of any race to hold the position. The following year, Pratt was elected as the Democratic National Committeewoman from the District of Columbia.
In 1985, she was elected the Democratic National Committee Treasurer, making her the first woman to hold this position as well. Pratt was elected mayor of Washington, D.C. in 1990, during her first bid for public office.
While in office, she worked to increase Hispanic and black business ownership. Although unsuccessful in her efforts to achieve statehood status for the District of Columbia, Pratt served as a huge inspiration to women in politics around the country.