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Hawaii's Patsy Mink Honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

 / Updated 

The late United States Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink will be posthumously honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor today.

Representative Mink was the first woman of color elected to the United States Congress. She began serving in Hawaii’s territorial and state legislatures in 1956, and she represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District from 1965-1977 and 1990-2002, for a total of twelve terms. She is best known for sponsoring and co-authoring Title IX, which passed in 1972, protecting students from gender discrimination in federally-supported education programs and activities. It was renamed the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity Education Act after her death in 2002.

When Mink passed away, it was too late to remove her name from the general election ballot, and she was posthumously re-elected to Congress by a wide margin.

In the documentary film, Ahead of the Majority, Mink explained her commitment to equality.

“What you endure is who you are. And if you just accept and do nothing, then life goes on," said Mink. "But if you see it as a way for change, life doesn’t have to be so unfair. It can be better. Maybe not for me, I can’t change the past, but I can certainly help somebody else in the future so they don’t have to go through what I did.”

“This recognition for my friend, Patsy Mink, is well deserved,” said US Senator Mazie Hirono. “A visionary and a trailblazer, Patsy’s legacy lives on in every female student and athlete in America who’s been given a fair shot to compete in the classroom and on the playing field.”

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