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Patsy T. Mink, Civil Rights Activist (1927-2002)

Maui-born Patsy Mink spent much of her life fighting for justice and equality. She chose the realm of politics. She was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives in 1956 and to the Territorial Senate in 1958. She was elected twice (1964) and (1990) to Congress and also served as a member of the Honolulu City Council (1983-1987).


As a Japanese American woman, her struggle for success involved overcoming gender and racial bias.


She was the first woman of color and the first Asian American to be elected to the United States Congress in 1964. This was the era of civil rights legislation, and she was a fierce supporter of these efforts. Her crowning achievement was as the architect and co-author of Title lX of the Educational Amendments Act, passed in 1972. This law prohibits sex-based discrimination by any school or educational program receiving federal funds.

I was fortunate to interview Patsy in 1986 for the Rice & Roses television series. It was featured in the episode titled, "Statehood Years". She was a passionate advocate for Hawaiʻi’s statehood. In this clip from our archives, Patsy discusses why she fought for statehood.



Hawaiʻi was proclaimed the 50th state on August 21, 1959, and the 3d Friday in August is now Admission Day, a Hawai‘i state holiday. While there is much to celebrate, many indigenous Hawaiians have raised serious issues about the overthrow of their Queen in 1893, annexation by the United States in 1898, and subsequent disparities as a colonized people.

Title IX applies to all educational programs in institutions that receive federal funding. It has been interpreted broadly to include gender identity and sexual orientation. However these broad protections may not prevail under the auspices of the current Supreme Court. Indeed, the struggle never ends! Mahalo Nui Loa, Chris Conybeare Executive Producer

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