Sharon Pratt Kelly

Sharon Pratt Kelly

name= Sharon Pratt Kelly

office= Mayor of Washington, D.C.
term_start= January 2, 1991
term_end= January 2, 1995
predecessor= Marion S. Barry, Jr.
successor=Marion S. Barry, Jr.
birth_date= Birth date and age|1944|1|30|mf=y
birth_place= Washington, D.C.
spouse=Arrington Dixon (1967–82)
James Kelly III (1991–99)
children= daughters Drew and Aimee
profession= Business executive
party= Democrat

Sharon Pratt Kelly (born January 30, 1944), formerly Sharon Pratt Dixon and now known as Sharon Pratt, was the third mayor of the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1995. Pratt was the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major American city.


Sharon Pratt was born in Washington, D.C. She received both undergraduate and law degrees from Howard University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She followed the career path of her superior court judge father and taught law at Antioch College as he had, before returning to Washington in 1977.

She was married to Arrington Dixon, a Democrat on the D.C. city council for 15 years until they divorced. They have two daughters, Drew Dixon Williams and Aimee Dixon. Her grandchildren are Dixon Bathrus Williams (b. Sept. 2004) and Carlyle Hastie Williams (b. Sept. 2006).

She resides part-time in New York City and in Washington, D.C.


Initially her political energies were drawn to national rather than local politics. She was a member of the Democratic National Committee from the District of Columbia from 1977-90, the first female to hold that position. She served as Treasurer of the DNC 1985-89.

Pratt directed the failed 1982 mayoral campaign of Patricia Roberts Harris.

In 1983 she was made Vice President of Community Relations at Pepco, the DC power utility. She become the first woman and first African-American to serve in that role. The same year, she won the Presidential Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Mayor of the District of Columbia

Upset with the decline of her hometown, Pratt announced at the 1988 Democratic National Convention that she would challenge incumbent mayor Marion Barry in the 1990 election. Pratt was the only candidate to have officially announced her plans to run for mayor when Barry was arrested on drug charges and dropped out of the race in early 1990. Shortly thereafter, the race was joined by three longtime D.C. Councilmembers. Pratt criticized her opponents on the council, referring to them as the "three blind mice" who "saw nothing, said nothing and did nothing as the city rapidly decayed." She promised to "clean house with a shovel, not a broom." Following a series of televised debates during the last few weeks of the campaign, Pratt received the endorsement of "The Washington Post." Within a matter of days, Pratt's grass-roots campaign staff grew from eight volunteers in their teens and twenties to over a one hundred volunteers. The night before the election, poll numbers showed Pratt in a horserace for second-place. On Election Day voters showed up at the polls carrying brooms and shovels. Pratt ultimately won the election by a healthy double-digit margin.

Pratt was sworn in as mayor of Washington on January 2, 1991, the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major American city. On December 7, 1991, she married James R. Kelly III, a New York businessman, and changed her name to Sharon Pratt Kelly.cite news
title=Now She's Mayor Kelly: Dixon Gets Married, Changes Her Name
work=The Washington Post
] In 1999, Pratt and Kelly divorced.

Once in office, Pratt's grassroots, reform posture was met with resistance. As she made good on her promise to slash the city employment payroll, her fragile political coalition began to weaken. Her efforts to achieve D.C. statehood in order to improve the District's financial and political standing upset the status quo and resulted in a barrage of negative press. In an ironic twist, much of the mainstream press suggested that in spite of her anti-patronage reform policies, Pratt was an aloof, out-of-touch corporate insider. Washington, D.C. is a predominantly African-American city, so it was particularly damning when the media began to portray Pratt as a fair-skinned elitist. In the second year of her term, Barry loyalists mounted a recall campaign, which, although unsuccessful, weakened her administration.

In the 1994 Democratic primary, Kelly finished a distant third, losing to the ever-popular Marion Barry.

Post-Mayoral activities

Pratt is now involved in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness planning through her privately held company, Pratt Consulting.


External links

*cite web
title=Sharon Pratt Biography
publisher=The HistoryMakers

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