Eerie and poetic because the first black person elected to office in Brooklyn was Bertram Baker, who happens to have been our maternal granddad.
Ruth Baker Pratt came to our attention today by way of a New York Times story about Republican women in New York City. Her name was mentioned in passing, but for me it was one of those stop-here-and-ponder moments, and it got me forthwith to looking for more about her.
Being a creature of the Research 2.0 age, I immediately went to the most official and reliable (not to mention most accessible) source available, which would be wikipedia, of course.
Back in the Roaring Twenties, 1925 to be exact, our person of the moment became a member of the NYC Board of Aldermen (who apparently were not yet progressive enough to even consider the word alderperson or alderwoman), the first woman to be so honored.
In 1929, Baker Pratt was elected to Congress from Manhattan and served in that body until 1933.
And so, yes, Dear Virginia, there was woman power before Bella Abzug, whose hats and loquacity impressed her indelibly in the minds of her generation, a good 30 years after Bake Pratt was in her own heyday.
Together with Reed Smoot, Congresswoman Baker Pratt introduced the Pratt-Smoot Act, which was signed into law by President Herbert Hoover on March 3, 1931. The Act provided blind adults with books, in a program known as Books for the Blind. The program has been much expanded over the years.
Baker Pratt was born in Massachusetts and moved to New York, where she married into money. She died on 23 August, 1965 at the family house and estate, Manor House, Glen Cove, Long Island, one day from her 88th birthday.
She was buried at the Pratt Family Mausoleum, Old Tappan Road, Glen Cove.
(We have written quite a bit, by the way, about Bertram Baker, and will do more in the near future.)
[Photo: Copyright Washington Post; reprinted by wiki with permission of the DC Public Library, a right that presumably and hopefully passes on to humble blogs from Brooklyn.]