Patsy Takemoto Mink: First Woman of Color in Congress

In honor of Women’s History Month, Progress NC Action is highlighting women who have fostered change, encouraged debate and have transformed our state through their contributions to arts, sciences, politics, etc.

Similar to the women highlighted in previous blog posts, Patsy Takemoto Mink was no stranger to firsts. Mink was the first woman of color to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964 and the first Asian-American woman to serve in Congress.

As a congresswoman of Hawaii, Mink fought for gender and racial equality, bilingual education, immigration rights, and became one of the authors of the Title IX law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. 

  • Through her own experience of discrimination in education as a person of color, and as a woman, Mink helped lay out the groundwork for prohibiting gender discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for women in college athletics through the passage of Title IX.
  • Despite the progress Title IX had made, Mink frequently acknowledged Congress’ shortcomings and the work still needed to be done towards achieving equality for every American.
  • One of her great legislative triumphs was the Women’s Educational Equity Act, passed as part of an education bill in 1974. The act provided $30 million a year in educational funds for programs to promote gender equity in schools, to increase educational and job opportunities for women, and was among the first to fund innovative work to increase math and science achievement for girls.
  • Mink also became the first Asian American to run for presidentbriefly running as a candidate in 1972 on an anti-war platform. In the same year, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman to run for president.

Patsy Mink is remembered for building the blocks for women to achieve equal access to educational opportunities and to open up spaces that were traditionally male dominated spheres.


Learn more about Patsy Mink’s legacy here.

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Alanna Joyner

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