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Patsy Mink

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Title: Patsy Mink  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, United States presidential election, 1972, Ed Case, Shirley Chisholm, John A. Burns
Collection: 1927 Births, 2002 Deaths, American Congregationalists, American Feminists, American Politicians of Japanese Descent, American Women Lawyers, American Women of Asian Descent in Politics, Deaths from Pneumonia, Deaths from Varicella Zoster Infection, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Female Members of the United States House of Representatives, Female United States Presidential Candidates, Hawaii Democrats, Hawaii State Senators, Honolulu City Council Members, Infectious Disease Deaths in Hawaii, Members of the Hawaii Territorial Legislature, Members of the United States Congress of Asian Descent, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Hawaii, People from Maui, People from Paia, Hawaii, Politicians Elected Posthumously, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, United States Presidential Candidates, 1972, University of Chicago Law School Alumni, University of Hawaii Alumni, Women State Legislators in Hawaii
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Patsy Mink

Patsy Mink
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd district
In office
September 22, 1990 – September 28, 2002
Preceded by Daniel Akaka
Succeeded by Ed Case
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by New district
Succeeded by Daniel Akaka
Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
In office
March 28, 1977 – May 1, 1978
Preceded by Frederick Irving
Succeeded by Thomas R. Pickering
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's At Large district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1971
Preceded by Thomas Gill
Succeeded by District eliminated[1]
Personal details
Born Patsy Matsu Takemoto
(1927-12-06)December 6, 1927
Maui, Hawaii, U.S.
Died September 28, 2002(2002-09-28) (aged 74)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) John Mink
Children Gwendolyn Mink
Religion Protestant

Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink (竹本 まつ Takemoto Matsu, December 6, 1927 – September 28, 2002) was an American politician from the U.S. state of Hawaii. Mink was a third generation Japanese American and member of the Democratic Party. She also was the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Mink served in the U.S. House of Representatives for a total of 12 terms, representing Hawaii's first and second congressional districts. While in Congress she was noted for co-authoring the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act.[2]

Mink was the first woman of color and the first Asian American woman elected to Congress. She was also the first woman elected to Congress from the state of Hawaii, and became the first Asian American to seek the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party in the 1972 election, where she stood in the Oregon primary as an anti-war candidate.[3] From 1978 to 1981 Mink served as the president of Americans for Democratic Action.

Patsy Mink appeared on an episode of "What's My Line" dated March 14, 1965.

On August 30, 2002, Mink was hospitalized in Honolulu's Straub Clinic and Hospital with complications from chickenpox. Her condition steadily worsened, and on September 28, 2002, Mink died in Honolulu of viral pneumonia, at age 74.


  • Family background 1
  • Early years and education 2
  • Family and early career 3
  • U.S. Representative 4
  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of State 5
  • Return to U.S. Representative 6
  • Death 7
  • Legacy 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Family background

Mink's parents were second-generation Japanese Americans or Nisei. She was a Sansei, or third-generation descendant of emigrants from Japan.[4] Her father, Suematsu Takemoto, was a civil engineer. Her mother, Mitama Tateyama, was a homemaker.[5][6] Takemoto graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1922. Takemoto was the first Japanese American to graduate from the University of Hawaii.[7]

For several years, Mink's father Takemoto was the only Japanese American civil engineer working in Maui.[7] He was passed over and not promoted several times during his career and instead, the positions were offered to white Americans.[7] He resigned his local position in 1945 in the aftermath of World War II, and moved to Honolulu with his family. Takemoto established his own land surveying company in Honolulu.[7]

Mink's maternal grandparents were Gojiro Tateyama and his wife Tsuru. Gojiro was born in the Empire of Japan during the 19th century. He arrived in the Territory of Hawaii late in the century, and was employed on a sugar plantation. He later moved to Maui, and was initially employed as a worker for the East Maui Irrigation Company. Subsequently, Gojiro was employed as a store manager and filling station employee. He also delivered mail throughout the backcountry of Maui.

The Tateyamas lived in a shack by Waikamoi Stream. They had eleven children. William Pogue, Gojiro's employer at the Irrigation Company, arranged to have the Tateyama female children educated at the Maunaolu Seminary, a boarding school for Christian girls located in the town of Makawao.[7]

Early years and education

Mink was born in Paia on the island of Maui. She was raised by her parents on Maui.

She attended Maui High School and in her Junior year, Mink won her first election to become student body president. Her election to the position came with great challenges. She developed approaches to confront these challenges, and she drew on these experiences when later serving in the territorial legislature and in Congress. For example, the month before the election, Honolulu was attacked by Japan. As a consequence, most of the student body was uncomfortable with anything that was Japanese-oriented. Therefore, in order to get elected, Mink had to overcome these hard feelings. Mink also had to cope with being the only female who had ever showed ambition for student office in the school's history, something that was unheard of at the time. Mink orchestrated a strategy of impressing the various cliques on campus, including the popular football team. Her coalition-building strategy worked and she won a close election. In 1944, Mink graduated from high school as class valedictorian.

Mink moved to medical school. She received bachelor's degrees in zoology and chemistry from the University of Hawaii. However, in 1948, none of the twenty medical schools to which she applied would accept women. A disappointed Mink decided the best way to force medical schools to accept women would be through the judicial process. Mink decided to go to law school.

Mink applied to the University of Chicago Law School. Unusually, the school had admitted women from its inception in 1902, and Mink attended law school with several other women. Mink obtained her Juris Doctor degree in 1951.

Family and early career

While at law school, Mink met hydrologist John Mink (1924–2005), who was to become her husband and lifelong partner.

Newly married, Mink settled in Honolulu soon after, where she began practicing law. In 1952, Patsy gave birth to her daughter Gwendolyn, who later became a prominent author and educator on labor and women's issues.

As the Territory of Hawaii debated statehood in 1956, Mink was elected to the Hawaii Territorial Legislature representing her district in the territorial House of Representatives. She then served in the territorial Senate. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the Union. From 1962-1964, Mink served in the Hawaii State Senate.

At the 1960 Democratic National Convention, a speech by Hawaii delegate Mink persuaded two-thirds of the party to keep their progressive stance on the civil rights issue.[8]

U.S. Representative

Patsy Mink during her first career in Congress
Mink with Lyndon Johnson after his trip to Hawaii for a conference on the Vietnam War, February 1966.

In 1965, Mink became the first female minority to join the ranks of Congress. She served six consecutive terms. During the 1972 Presidential race, Mink ran in the Oregon primary as an anti-Vietnam War candidate.

Mink took what she learned in high school and built some of the most influential coalitions in Congress. Her most important coalition was one to support the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act, of which she was one of the principal authors and sponsors, prohibiting gender discrimination by federally funded institutions, an outgrowth of the adversities Mink faced through college.[2]

In 1970, Mink became the first Democratic woman to deliver a State of the Union response.[9]

Mink also introduced the first comprehensive National Women's Conference[10] which President Gerald Ford signed into law.[11]

From 1975 to 1977, during the 94th Congress, Mink was elected to a position in the House Democratic leadership, as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus.[12]

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State

In 1976, Mink gave up her seat in Congress to run for a vacancy in the United States Senate. After she lost the primary election for the Senate seat to Spark Matsunaga, President of the United States Jimmy Carter appointed Mink as Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. She served under Cyrus Vance and Edmund Muskie.

Return to U.S. Representative

After her service in the Carter Administration, Mink settled in Honolulu, where she was elected to the Honolulu City Council. Her peers on the council eventually elected her Chairwoman, and she often butted heads with the controversial Mayor of Honolulu Frank Fasi.

In 1990, Mink won back a seat in Congress, serving alongside Neil Abercrombie who represented the First Congressional District of Hawaii.


On August 30, 2002, Mink was hospitalized in Honolulu's Straub Clinic and Hospital with complications from chickenpox. Her condition steadily worsened, and on September 28, 2002, Mink died in Honolulu of viral pneumonia, at age 74.

Hawaii and the nation mourned; President Hawaii State Capitol Rotunda attended by leaders and members of Congress. She is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. In 2007, Central Oahu Regional Park on Oahu was renamed "Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park" in her honor.

Mink's death occurred one week after the 2002 primary election, too late for her name to be removed from the general election ballot. On November 5, 2002, Mink was posthumously re-elected to Congress. Her vacant seat was filled by Ed Case after a special election on January 4, 2003.


In 2002 Congress renamed the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act (which Mink coauthored) to the "Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act." [13]

Documentary films about Mink's life and role in Title IX include: Rise of the Wahine, directed by Dean Kaneshiro [14] and Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority (2008), directed by Kimberlee Bassford.[15]

She received a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on November 24, 2014.[16][17]


  1. ^ "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: Mink, Patsy Takemoto, (1927 - 2002)". Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  2. ^ a b Gootman, Elissa (30 September 2002). "Patsy Mink, Veteran Hawaii Congresswoman, Dies at 74". New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  3. ^ The Democratic Party | Patsy Takemoto Mink (1927 – 2002)
  4. ^ Nomura, Gail M. (1998). "Japanese American Women," in (Mankiller, Barbara Smith, ed.), pp. 288-290.The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History , p. 288, at Google Books
  5. ^ Judith A. Leavitt, "American Women Managers and Administrators: A Selective Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-century Leaders in Business, Education, and Government" (1985), page 183
  6. ^ Dorothy C. L. Cordova, Stephen Fugita and Hyung-chan Kim, "Distinguished Asian Americans: A Biographical Dictionary" (1999), page 246
  7. ^ a b c d e Matusda, Mari J. (1992). Called from Within: Early Women Lawyers of Hawaii. United States: University of Hawaii Press.  
  8. ^ "Democratic National Political Conventions 1832–2008" (PDF). Library of Congress. 2008. pp. 19–20. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Joni Ernst will be the 16th woman to respond to the State of the Union: Female politicians have been fighting the same sexist attacks for decades.". Slate Magazine. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Women Elected to Party Leadership Positions". Women in Congress.  
  13. ^ "Title IX". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "Rise of the Wahine Documentary Film". 
  15. ^ "WOMEN MAKE MOVIES - Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "President Obama Names Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom". The White House. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to 18". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 


  • Nomura, Gail M. (1998). "Japanese American Women," in The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History (Mankiller, Barbara Smith, ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618001828; OCLC 43338598

External links

  • Patsy Mink at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Her profile in "Distinguished Asian Americans"
  • Her profile in "American Women Administrators"
  • Her profile in "Called from Within"
  • Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority, a documentary by Kimberlee Bassford
  • Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority, the documentary, Women Make Movies
  • All Politics Profile on CNN
  • Honolulu Advertiser Special Edition, September 29, 2002
  • Honolulu Advertiser Special Edition, October 5, 2002
  • National Organization for Women Memorial of Patsy Mink
  • National Women's History Project Biography of Patsy Mink
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas Gill
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's at-large congressional district

January 3, 1965– January 2, 1971
Succeeded by
District eliminated
Preceded by
New district
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd congressional district

January 3, 1971–January 2, 1977
Succeeded by
Daniel Akaka
Preceded by
Daniel Akaka
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd congressional district

September 22, 1990–September 28, 2002
Succeeded by
Ed Case
Government offices
Preceded by
Frederick Irving
Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
March 28, 1977 – May 1, 1978
Succeeded by
Thomas R. Pickering
Party political offices
Preceded by
Leonor Sullivan
Secretary of Democratic Caucus of the United States House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Shirley Chisholm
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