The Mother of Title IX

To restore the original intent of Title IX, it’s important that we examine its history to truly understand why the author of this bill rallied so hard to enact it. Unfortunately, the intent behind this law has since been distorted due to precedent-setting judicial interpretations and decisions of the federal courts.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is now officially known as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in honor of its principal author.  This federal law was renamed by President George W. Bush on October 29, 2002.  Congress commissioned a likeness of Congressman Mink’s image in the halls of the U.S. Capitol as a reminder of her significant contributions towards equal rights in the country and for being one of the most influential public servants of her generation.

At age 14, Mink (1927-2002) was an eyewitness to the carnage of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  As a Japanese American, she was treated like the enemy by both sides in the conflict.  Nevertheless, Mink remained patriotic, optimistic and courageous during a time when she met segregation, belittlement, and contempt for both her race and gender.  The discrimination was relentless, mostly unchallenged, and thoroughly practiced by society.  Mink refused to stand silent and became a legislative trailblazer.

Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink wrote Title IX as an outgrowth of the adversities she faced in obtaining her college degrees at the University of Hawai’i, University of Nebraska and University of Chicago.

Mink was known as articulate, tenacious and willing to fight for causes regardless of their magnitude.  She became a leader on issues involving women’s rights, education, child care, peace, the environment, welfare, and civil rights.

Throughout her career, she never associated herself with the women’s liberation movement despite her work on Title IX.  ”Just because I’m interested in women doesn’t mean I’m for women’s liberation,” she told The New York Times in 1970. ”I support all groups when what they do coincides with what I believe in.”

Educational Adversity

  • Mink was born in Maui and attended the University of Hawai’i at Manoa (Oahu) in 1944.
  • After the war, she was allowed to transfer to the mainland and attended the University of Nebraska.  She was angered by the university’s long-standing racial segregation policy whereby students of color were forced to live in the same dormitories apart from the whites. Mink organized and created a coalition of students, parents, administrators, employees, alumni, sponsoring businesses and corporations and ended the university’s segregation policies.
  • After her successful war against segregation at the University of Nebraska, Mink returned to Honolulu to prepare for medical school.  She received two bachelor’s degrees (zoology and chemistry) from the University of Hawai’i.
  • In 1948, she was rejected by all twenty medical schools to which she applied.  None would accept women. Mink decided the only way to get medical schools to accept women would be through the judicial process. Mink decided to go to law school.
  • Mink applied to the University of Chicago Law School.  Contrary to other schools, it admitted women from its inception in 1902 and Mink graduated in 1951.
  • Mink was the first Japanese American woman to pass the Hawai’i state bar exam.

Political Career (1956-2002) – Summary

  • Japanese American politician from the U.S. state of Hawai’i.
  • Democrat who served the people of Hawaii for nearly fifty years.
  • Congresswoman for 12 terms – Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district.
  • First woman elected to Congress from the state of Hawai’i.
  • First woman of color and the first Asian American woman elected to Congress.
  • First Asian American to seek the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party in the 1972 election.
  • Elected to the Hawai’i territorial house (1956-58); territorial senate (1958-59); and state senate. (1962-64); House of Representatives (1965-77; 1990-2002); Honolulu City Council (1983-87).

Congresswoman Mink was a woman devoted to fairness and a valiant protector of equal rights.  She stood steadfastly against discrimination and championed for fair treatment of ALL people.  Thanks to Rep. Mink, times have changed, but over time and litigation, so has the heart and purpose of Title IX.  Let’s restore the equity that Rep. Mink fought so fiercely to achieve.


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