Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Women's History Month 2018: Patsy Mink

Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink
Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink was born in Hawaii in 1927. She went on to become the first woman of color elected to Congress, the first Asian-American women elected to Congress, the first woman from Hawaii election to Congress and the first Asian-American woman to run for presidential nomination for the Democratic party, which she did during the 1972 election cycle.

Patsy's ambition was clear even in high school where she was class president and graduated valedictorian. She went on to earn a B.A. in zoology and chemistry from the University of Hawaii and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. She married John Francis Mink in 1951. In 1952, she had a daughter and the family moved back to Hawaii where Patsy practice law and taught.

Patsy was first elected to the Hawaii senate in 1958. In 1959, Hawaii became a state, and Mink sought the Democratic nomination for a seat in the House of Representatives. She was unsuccessful. She was once again elected to state senate in 1962, and in 1964, when Hawaii earned a second seat in the House of Representatives, Patsy ran without the Democratic nomination and won. Through her boldness and grassroots efforts, Patsy broke a lot of barriers and achieved many firsts in this one move.

While in Congress, Pasty fought for equal rights for women and also worked to balance the scales in schools through the efforts like Title IX and the Women's Education Equality Act. Title IX barred gender discrimination for institutions receiving federal funds. It also opened the doors for female athletic programs in schools. The Women's Education Equality Act went further by requiring gender equality programs, more education and job opportunities for female students and even removing gender stereotypes from textbooks.

Mink tried for a U.S. Senate seat in 1976 but lost. She remained active in politics and served in her native Hawaii throughout the 1980s. In 1990 she returned to the House of Representatives where she served until 2002 when she passed away at the age of 74. Her work set in motion many improvements for women and reform in healthcare and education for everyone. In 2003, the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation was started to support low-income women and children. In 2014, she received a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

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