ALIST Profile of Patsy Mink '51

Excerpted from

Are you a woman who played sports in high school or college in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s or who went to college or graduate school in the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s? Are you a female college student or do you know someone who is a female college student or female athlete?  If so, then there’s a woman you should be thanking for the passage of Title IX.  While most people have probably heard of Title IX and think of its main application in terms of providing equal access for girls and women in high school and college sports, many people may not know that (1) Title IX was actually proposed with the idea of equality of education for women and covers 10 areas, including equality in sports (2) The principal architect and sponsor of this bill — a bill that was subsequently renamed in 2002 to honor this congressperson’s achievements, is Patsy Mink.

Patsy Mink was an extraordinary woman.  She was born Patsy Matsu Takemoto on December 6, 1927 and grew up on a plantation in Maui, Hawaii (although it should be noted that her father was one of the few college-educated plantation employees — he was a land surveyor — and received a very good salary, certainly better than the laboring plantation workers in the fields).  Mink wanted to become a doctor, but found that a combination of sexism and racism barred her from medical school.  So she got a law degree from the University of Chicago, but subsequently found that a combination of sexism and racism prevented her from being hired in both Chicago and Honolulu...

So Patsy Mink got involved in politics.  And while the path to Congress would take too long to recite in this column, the important thing to know about Patsy Mink is that she became one of eight women in the House of Representatives and, most significantly, she was the first woman of color, the first Asian American woman, the first Japanese American woman, to serve in Congress.

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