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In Memoriam: Patsy Mink

Rep. Mink spoke at the National NOW Conference in St. Paul, Minn. in June 2002
At the 2002 National NOW Conference in June, Rep. Mink said: "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. That is really the story of Title IX."

The world lost one of its greatest citizens on September 28 with the death of Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink. Girls and women also lost one of their most valiant and steadfast champions. Every woman today who is enjoying the fruits of her education and job opportunities, and every girl who has a chance to play sports in school, owes a nod of thanks to Mink who unremittingly and dauntlessly challenged old stereotypes about "women's place" and helped engineer the steady progress for women over the last four decades — parallel to Mink's career in politics.

Patsy Mink stood up and showed up for girls and women, often outnumbered and sometimes outmaneuvered. But she persisted, cajoled, humored and demanded of her colleagues that Congress attend to the business of over half its constituents. Among many accomplishments, she was a leader in shepherding the passage of Title IX in 1972 to promote educational equity. One of only two women ever to receive this honor, Patsy Mink was named a NOW Woman of Vision in June, 2002, in a ceremony honoring the 30th Anniversary of Title IX. In celebrating her life, we must rededicate ourselves to protecting her legacy by preventing the current efforts to dismantle this landmark legislation.

Rep. Mink, with NOW Vice President Karen Johnson at the Young Feminist Summit in 1997
Rep. Mink, with NOW Vice President Karen Johnson at the Young Feminist Summit in 1997.

In the last decade of her political leadership, Patsy Mink was a vigorous advocate on behalf of poor families. Faced with the bi-partisan tidal wave that pounded poor women, insisting that they "get to work," Mink worked tirelessly to promote policies that truly addressed the realities of poverty and last year garnered substantial support in the House of Representatives for her legislation to provide additional education and skills that would support true self-sufficiency.

Patsy Mink will always be remembered with love and respect and gratitude. She was our champion — a tireless advocate and a hero to women and girls everywhere.

Kim Gandy and Pat Reuss

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