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National NOW Times >> Fall 2002 >> Article

In Memoriam: Patsy Mink

The world lost one of its greatest citizens on Sept. 28, 2002, 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.

NOW presented Patsy Mink with a Woman of Vision award at the 2002 National Conference. Mink, the representative from Hawaii and the first woman of color to serve in the U.S. House, was honored for her leadership in passing Title IX in 1972, as well as her dedication to numerous feminist and civil rights issues.  Executive Vice President Karen Johnson, left, presents Mink with the first-time award.
NOW presented Patsy Mink with a Woman of Vision award at the 2002 National Conference. Mink, the representative from Hawaii and the first woman of color to serve in the U.S. House, was honored for her leadership in passing Title IX in 1972, as well as her dedication to numerous feminist and civil rights issues. Executive Vice President Karen Johnson, left, presents Mink with the first-time award. Photo by Lisa Bennett

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.

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. Aloha, Patsy.

Personal Tributes to Patsy Mink

"Women everywhere will miss Patsy Mink, but especially those of us who have tried to break down barriers that stereotype women as weak and incapable of performing physically demanding tasks. The only tribute that would truly honor Patsy would be for Congress and other governmental bodies to redouble their efforts to remove the stereotypes and artificial barriers that restrict women's opportunities."
— Captain Brenda Berkman, FDNY, Brooklyn, N.Y.

"What a tough ol' bird she was. I remember her speaking on the house floor—shouting, actually—as she made clear the stance she was taking on behalf of the people of Hawaii ... how passionate she was about the issues ... a champion for standing up for her beliefs and for the people she loyally served."
— Cyndi Mei Ozaki, Evansville, Ind., former Mink intern

"I remember the first time I ever saw Patsy Mink speak. It was at a NOW Young Feminist Summit in April 1997 ... She was dynamic and articulate—and she looked kind of like me. For the first time in my life, I saw an Asian woman leader who was an unapologetic liberal feminist in a position of leadership, standing up and rallying a crowd. Unexpectedly, I found I had tears in my eyes."
— Jane Ann Kim, Washington, D.C.

"The world has lost yet another compassionate leader, advocate and visionary who worked not only on behalf of women and girls, but also the impoverished laborer, the destitute and the disenfranchised. I only hope that those inspired by her work and dedication will honor her memory and pick up the torch she has left behind."
— Ming Pham, Arlington, Va.

"I was blessed to hear Patsy speak at the National NOW Conference in June, 2002. Her talk was inspirational and moving ... I'm certain her legacy will live on and whenever I see a woman compete in sports, I will think of Patsy Mink. When I see the election of our first woman president, I will think of Patsy Mink."
— Suzy Colt, Barrington, N.H.

"She encouraged me to continue speaking up as a mother of a gay son because others needed to hear my message. She was a dedicated public servant and a wonderful person who is missed greatly. What a role model!"
— Carolyn Martinez Golojuch, Makakilo, Hawaii

Read more tributes to Patsy Mink online.

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