The late Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink, who coauthored and championed the landmark Title IX legislation, was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Wendy Mink accepted the medal on her mother’s behalf in a White House ceremony on Nov. 24. The medal is the highest civilian honor that can be presented to individuals who have made especially “meritorious contributions” to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural, or other significant public or private endeavors.

Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education and in any area receiving federal assistance. Although its impact has been most visible in breaking down barriers in sports for girls and women, the impact of the law is much more widespread.

U.S. Representative Patsy T. Mink in 1990.
U.S. Representative Patsy T. Mink in 1990.

Congresswoman Mink, who was born and raised on Maui, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1977, and from 1990 until her passing in 2002. She was one of 19 individuals honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The following citation was read at the ceremony: “Patsy Takemoto Mink was ahead of her time. The first woman of color elected to Congress, she entered office determined to do all she could to ensure equal treatment for every American, regardless of race or sex . . .”

President Obama stated: “An American trailblazer, Patsy Takemoto Mink helped build a nation that lives up to its promise, and her example challenges us to make progress in our time.

“Every girl in little league, every woman playing college sports and every parent, including Michelle and myself, who watches their daughter on a field and in the classroom, is forever grateful to the late Patsy Takemoto Mink. I’m particularly grateful because she was my congresswoman for a long time,” said the Hawai‘i-born president.

“Patsy was many firsts, including the first woman of color in Congress and, to those of us in Hawai‘i, she represented the very best of public service and the aloha spirit. And if she was a first, she dedicated her life to making sure that she would not be the last. From championing for civil rights to fighting against gender discrimination, Patsy was a passionate advocate for opportunity and equality and realizing the full promise of the American dream.”


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