Elected in 1964, Patsy T. Mink is sworn in on January 4, 1965, as the first Asian American woman and first woman of color to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Throughout her career, the U.S. representative for Hawaii was a strong supporter of civil and women’s rights, as well as an advocate for children, labor unions and education. Serving as a member of the Committee for Education and Labor, Mink was vocal in her opposition to the Vietnam War and was a supporter of a national daycare system, Head Start and the Women’s Educational Equity Act.
Mink, who co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in 1994, was a key author and sponsor of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which outlawed sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal funding.
”It’s rare as a legislator that you fight for legislation you believe in and stay around or live long enough to see it come to fruition,” she told a group of top women basketball players in 1995.
The daughter of second-generation Japanese immigrants, she was the first Japanese American admitted to the Hawaii bar in 1953 and the first woman to serve in the Hawaii territorial House of Representatives in 1956. Mink served in Congress from 1965 to 1977, and following an unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid, she was appointed assistant secretary of state for oceans and international, environmental and scientific affairs under the Jimmy Carter administration from 1977-1978.
After her time in the Carter administration, Mink continued to work in public service, including as a member of the Honolulu City Council and as founder of a watchdog organization that reported on Hawaii’s state legislature. She was again elected to Congress in 1990, serving until her death at age 74 in 2002. Soon after her death, Title IX was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.
READ MORE: Asian American Milestones: Timeline