Hirono seeks honor for Mink on first election to House

A resolution to honor the late Patsy Takemoto Mink, who grew up in a Maui plantation camp, on the 55th anniversary of the her election to Congress on Nov. 3 was introduced by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono last month.

All 17 Democratic Party female senators signed on to the resolution, Hirono’s office said last week.

“My friend Patsy Mink was a champion for social and economic justice, equality and civil rights for women and marginalized communities,” Hirono said. “She was a trailblazer who never backed down from a challenge and whose work in Hawaii and Congress brought positive change to the lives of women, children and minorities in Hawaii and across the country.”

Mink was the first non-Caucasian and Asian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964. She served 12 terms.

She is probably best known for having sponsored Title IX, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. The federal law, which was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, helped grow women’s athletics programs.

The representative from Hawaii also introduced the first child care bill and was known for her work on bringing to light the injustice that Japanese Americans faced during their internment during World War II.

Other firsts and accolades include being the first Democratic woman to deliver a State of the Union response in 1970, serving as co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously, the highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama.

Prior to her election to Congress, Mink served in the Hawaii Territorial House from 1956 to 1958, the Hawaii Territorial Senate from 1958 to 1959, and the state Senate from 1962 to 1964. She was also the first Asian American woman to practice law in Hawaii.