[R.I.P.] Patsy Mink Dies
H O N O L U L U, Sept. 28 ? Hawaii Rep. Patsy Mink, who had been
hospitalized for nearly a month with viral pneumonia, died Saturday,
her office said. She was 74.
Mink died at Straub Clinic and Hospital, where she had been treated
since Aug. 30 for viral pneumonia stemming from chickenpox, according
to a statement from her Washington office.
The Democrat had been a member of the House for 24 years over two
different stretches. She won re-election two years ago by a nearly
two-to-one margin, and had been considered a sure winner in the Nov. 5
Mink's spokesman, Andy Winer, had issued a statement Friday saying the
congresswoman's "prospects for a recovery are poor." Until then,
Mink's family had said only that she was in serious but stable
condition and was receiving treatment.
Her death came a week after she easily defeated little known perennial
candidate Steve Tataii in the Sept. 21 primary election.
Mink was one of Hawaii's most liberal politicians, often working
outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party.
She was an early opponent of the Vietnam War and accompanied fellow
Rep. Bella Abzug, D-N.Y., to Paris to talk to participants in the
Vietnam War peace talks.
She supported women's rights, was against the death penalty and had as
her spending priorities education, housing and health. Mink's strong
liberal stands led conservative opponents to dub her "Patsy Pink."
Mink believed one of her most significant accomplishments in Congress
was Title IX of the Education Act, which she helped author in 1972. It
mandated gender equality in any education program or activity
receiving federal financial assistance.
The law promotes equality in school athletics. Scholarship money for
women increased from $100,000 in 1972 to $179 million in 1997 but was
equally important in opening academics.
"To be frank," Mink said in 1997, the 25th anniversary of Title IX, "I
though this was great, a beginning statement of policy and intent. At
the moment we were doing it, we didn't think it would have this
fantastic momentum and the enforcement of the courts."
After serving in the territorial and state legislatures, Mink was
initially elected to Congress in 1964. She remained in the House until
1976, when she lost to fellow Rep. Spark Matsunaga in the Democratic
primary for the Senate.
Matsunaga went on to win the election, but his death in 1990 led to
Mink's return to Congress. She won a special election to fill out the
term of Rep. Daniel Akaka, who was named to succeed Matsunaga in the
She was re-elected that year and in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000.
After losing her Senate bid, Mink remained in Washington for two years
as an assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration.
She returned to elective politics in 1982, winning a four-year term on
the Honolulu City Council. She gave up the seat after one term and
made an unsuccessful run for governor.
Born Dec. 6, 1927 in Paia, Maui, Mink graduated from the University of
Hawaii in 1948 before earning her law degree from the University of
Chicago in 1951.
Mink became part of a movement, mostly composed of second-generation
Japanese-Americans many of them decorated World War II veterans that
enabled Democrats to wrest control of Hawaii politics from Republicans.
The GOP's decades-old grip was broken in 1954 when Democrats took
control of the territorial Legislature. Mink was elected to the
territorial House two years later, and won a seat in the state Senate
She is survived by her husband, John Mink, and daughter, Wendy.
CONGRESSWOMAN MINK FEATURED
ON NATIONAL WOMEN?S HISTORY MONTH POSTER
Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink (D-Hawaii-2nd
District) is one of six women featured on the official National
Women?s History Month commemorative poster for 2002 produced by the
National Women?s History Project. The theme of the poster is ?Women
Sustaining the American Spirit.?
The text accompanying Congresswoman Mink?s photo on the poster is as
The first Asian-American woman elected to the U.S. House of
Representatives, she [Mink] played a key role in the enactment of
Title IX expanding women?s educational opportunities.
The poster can be viewed and ordered from the National Women?s History
Project website at www.nwhp.org.
In addition to Congresswoman Mink, the poster features the images of
Mary Louise Defender Wilson, a Dakotah/Hidatsa storyteller whose work
serves as a cultural bridge to the 21st century; Alice Coachman, the
first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and
field; Dorothy Height, a leader in the struggle for equality and human
rights and president of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) for
over 40 years; Dolores Huerta ,co-founder and leader of the United
Farm Workers Union; and Gerda Lerner, the foremost pioneer in defining
the scope and importance of the field of women's history and the first
woman in fifty years to be elected president of the Organization of
The National Women?s History Project was founded in 1980, and each
year it publishes a poster in celebration of National Women?s History
Congresswoman Mink was also featured on a National Women?s History
Month poster in March 2001 as one of nine ?Women of Courage and
Vision.? Her co-honorees on that poster were Madame Curie, Sojourner
Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Mary McLeod Bethune, Amelia
Earhart, Ida L. Castro, and Janine Pease-Pretty On Top.
Coalition Builder for
Patsy Mink has served in the House of Representatives for twelve
terms. She is the first woman of Asian descent to serve in the U.S.
[Patsy Mink, Coalition Builder for Greater Understanding]
Her ancestry is the classic story of immigrants seeking a better life
in America for themselves and their families. Her four grandparents
emigrated from Japan in the late 1800's to work as contract laborers
in Maui's sugar plantations.
Patsy was born in Maui in December of 1928. From her earliest years,
she was encouraged to excel in academic courses. When she ran for
student body president during her junior year in high school, she
began her unofficial political career. World War II had begun and she
was facing the anti-Japanese-American sentiment that prevailed
throughout the country. She also had to overcome the obstacle of being
the first girl to run for this office. To achieve this goal, she
impressed a variety of students, including gaining the support of the
popular football team. She won a very close election and learned the
importance of coalition building. In 1944 she graduated as high school
She began college at the University of Hawaii, but transferred to the
University of Nebraska where she faced a policy of segregated student
housing. Working with other students, their parents, and even
university trustees, this policy of discrimination was ended. She
returned to the University of Hawaii to prepare for medical school and
graduated with a degree in zoology and chemistry. However, in 1948,
none of the twenty medical schools to which she applied would accept
She decided to study law and was accepted by the University of Chicago
because they considered her a "foreign student." Choosing not to
inform the University that Hawaii was an American territory, she
obtained her Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1951.
Newly married, she became the first Asian-American woman to practice
law in Hawaii. In 1956, she was elected to the Territorial House of
Representatives. It was the beginning of a long and effective
political life for Patsy Mink. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state.
In 1965, Patsy Mink was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
and began the first of six consecutive terms in the House of
Representatives. She was the first woman of color to be elected to
Mink's ability to build coalitions for progressive legislation
continued during her tenure in Congress. She introduced the first
comprehensive Early Childhood Education Act and authored the Women's
Educational Equity Act.
In the early 1970's, she played a key role in the enactment of Title
IX of the Higher Education Act Amendments. Written in 1972 to be
enacted by 1977, Title IX, which prohibited gender discrimination by
federally funded institutions, has become the major tool for women's
fuller participation not only in sports, but in all aspects of education.
In 1977, Patsy Mink gave up her House seat to make an unsuccessful run
for the US Senate, but in 1990 she was re-elected to the House. Her
hard work is obvious as she serves on a variety of House Committees
and Subcommittees. She has accomplished much in sustaining the