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Who was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. Congress?



Transcript

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY: Who was the first woman of color to serve in this body in the United States House of Representatives? It was a woman named Patsy Mink-- Patsy Takemoto Mink.

NARRATOR: U.S. Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink was born in Hawaii in 1927.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY: In 1964-- now this is 5 years after Hawaii became a state-- Patsy ran for the United States Congress, the first woman of color and the first Asian-American.

NARRATOR: Before her career in politics, Mink studied chemistry and zoology. She wanted to be a doctor, but her medical school applications were rejected because of her gender. She applied to law school instead. When she graduated, she was one of only two women in her law class.

She had trouble finding a job after graduation. Law firms did not want to hire her because she was a woman, an Asian American, and in an interracial marriage. She opened her own law firm instead, becoming the first Japanese American woman to practice law in Hawaii.

When Hawaii became a state, Mink ran for Congress. She lost the first time, but she secured a seat in the Senate in 1962. Two years later she was elected to the House of Representatives. She was reelected many times over the course of her career.

As a politician, Mink fought for education, civil rights, equal rights, and the environment.

PATSY TAKEMOTO MINK: I truly believe that the Constitution calls us to ration, and to reason today, and to the adoption of common sense, and for the belief in equal equality in this country.

NARRATOR: Patsy Takemoto Mink co-wrote Title IX, a federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination. It helped more women earn scholarships, play sports, and get college degrees by requiring schools that receive funding from the U.S. government to use the money on women’s educational and athletic programs as well as men’s.

PRES. BILL CLINTON: We are here to celebrate Title IX, but even more we're here to celebrate the God given talent of every woman and girl who has been benefited by it.

NARRATOR: After Mink died in 2002, the law was renamed after her to honor her.