Celebrating Women’s History Month: Patsy Mink (1927-2002)

By: Rachel Spears—Politcal Editor

The first woman of color elected to the U.S. Congress, Hawaiian lawyer and congresswoman Patsy Mink spent much of her life fighting against discrimination. Born in Maui to second generation Japanese immigrants, Mink led a student organization against a long standing policy of racial  segregation at the University of Nebraska. She decided to pursue a career in law after being rejected by all of the medical schools she applied to. After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, she was unable to find employment and was  then denied the right to take the bar exam in her home state of Hawaii. After challenging this restriction and opening her own law practice, Mink ran for congress, losing the first time but winning the seat  in 1964. One of the co authors of Title IX, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in educational programs and activities on the basis of sex, many of Mink’s bills resulted in reform of many kinds. “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,” she said. 

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