Patsy Takemoto Mink

Champion of Education Equity

“We have to build things that we want to see accomplished, in life and in our country, based on our own personal experiences to make sure that others do not have to suffer the same discrimination.”
Patsy Takemoto Mink, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 8, 1975

The Honorable Patsy Takemoto Mink (1927-2002) left an indelible mark on history through her unwavering commitment to equality and social justice. She was a formidable force in American politics, a trailblazer for women’s rights, and a champion for marginalized communities. Born in 1927, in Maui, Hawaii, Mink grew up during a time when racial and gender barriers were pervasive. Despite encountering racial prejudice, she excelled academically, earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology and chemistry from the University of Hawaii and later a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. Her experiences with discrimination fueled her activism, motivating her to fight for justice on multiple fronts.

In 1964, Mink ran for federal office and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, making history as the first woman of color and the first Asian American elected to Congress. Throughout her 24 years in the House of Representatives—serving 12 terms split between representing Hawaii’s at-large congressional district from 1965 to 1977 and second congressional district from 1990 to 2002—she tirelessly advocated for civil rights, healthcare reform, and education equity.

Mink is best remembered as the principal author of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a groundbreaking legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs. According to Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Mink’s advocacy for Title IX stemmed from her belief in the power of education to empower marginalized communities. She understood that equal access to education was essential for achieving gender equity and dismantling systemic barriers. Through her legislative efforts, Mink paved the way for generations of women and girls—in sports, academia, and beyond—to pursue their dreams without fear of discrimination. After her death in 2002, Title IX was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.

Beyond her contributions to education equity, Mink was a vocal advocate for immigrant rights, environmental protection, and universal healthcare. She fearlessly confronted societal injustices, speaking out against racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Mink’s intersectional approach to activism emphasized the interconnectedness of social justice issues and the value of coalition building—and, through her example, she inspired others to join the fight for equality.

Despite facing opposition and setbacks, Mink remained steadfast in her principles and unwavering in her dedication to public service. Her leadership and resilience continue to inspire activists and policymakers alike, reminding us of the power of perseverance in the face of adversity. Her legacy is a testament to the enduring impact of grassroots activism and the transformative power of one woman’s vision. As we celebrate her contributions to education equity and social justice, let us honor her memory by continuing the fight for equality and inclusion in all aspects of society.

Learn more about The Honorable Patsy Takemoto Mink at APAC’s Learning Lab

Quarter Launch Celebration

Historic Change:
Celebrating the Life and Legacy of the Honorable Patsy Takemoto Mink

Wednesday, April 17, 2024
11:00 am – 12:30 pm EDT
Cannon House Office Building, Cannon Caucus Room 27
Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20515

Join the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, the National Women’s History Museum, and the United States Mint to celebrate the Life and Legacy of the Honorable Patsy Takemoto Mink and commemorate the release of the 2024 Patsy Mink quarter, the twelfth coin to be released in the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters™ Program.

Program Participants:

  • Ventris C. Gibson, Director, United States Mint
  • The Honorable Mazie K. Hirono, United States Senator
  • Frédérique Irwin, President and CEO, National Women’s History Museum
  • Dr. Felicia Kornbluh, Professor of History and of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, University of Vermont Burlington and coauthor, Ensuring Poverty: Welfare Reform in Feminist Perspective
  • Erika L. Moritsugu, White House Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American/NHPI Liaison
  • Elizabeth A. Novara, Historian/American Women’s History Specialist, Library of Congress
  • Gwendolyn Mink, Daughter, Patsy Mink, and co-author, Fierce and Fearless: Patsy Takemoto Mink, First Woman of Color in Congress
  • The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Emerita, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Dr. Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, National Women’s History Museum Scholars Advisory Council Member; Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine and Director of the HumanitiesCenter; and co-author, Fierce and Fearless: Patsy Takemoto Mink, First Woman of Color in Congress
  • Dr. Yao-Fen You, Acting Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Historic Objects

Several objects related to the Honorable Patsy Takemoto Mink’s political career are collected in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.