Patsy Mink: A Woman Who Fought For Our RightsMarch 26, 2009
The other night, I had the unique pleasure of viewing the D.C. premiere of Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority at the Capitol Visitor Center. I had the privilege of enjoying this film in a group that included AAUW members, some of Patsy Mink’s former staff members, and Representative Lynn Woolsey (D – CA). This documentary shows us the life, work, and vibrant personality of Patsy Mink, the late congresswoman from Hawaii (and AAUW member!) who broke through barriers so that women and girls and people of color received equal rights. The film was created by a young, talented documentarian named Kimberlee Bassford. Kimberlee, also a Hawaiian native, truly honored Mink by sharing with us this heartfelt, inspiring story.
Patsy Mink was a strong woman determined to make things right for those facing injustice. She was the first woman of color in the United States Congress. After realizing that her gender and Asian ethnicity were obstacles in the pursuit of her career choices, she quickly started changing the rules so that women, girls, and minorities could pursue their chosen paths.
It is because of Patsy that women and girls are now able to thrive at school and in athletics. Mink changed the face of academia and athletics for women and girls with Title IX. According to the NCAA, since the passage of Title IX in 1972, participation opportunities for collegiate female athletes of color have increased 955 percent. Reflecting on Title IX and AAUW’s role in passing and protecting the legislation, I think about my three nieces, aged 5 to 9, and their strong interests in academics and sports. From a love of mathematics, to a future potential veterinarian, to an enthusiasm for Tae Kwon Do, these young girls have interests that they can continue to pursue freely without the burden of discrimination lingering over them. Plus, my brother, their father, is immensely proud of his girls’ interests and dreams.
I also didn’t know that Patsy Mink had been such a strong, vocal, advocate for the Vietnamese throughout the American-Vietnamese War. As a woman who is half Vietnamese, and whose parents were involved in the war, knowing that Patsy spoke against involvement because Vietnamese were being treated as lesser people, made me even more grateful to her.
AAUW will be featuring the Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority at our convention in St. Louis. It is my hope that you join us to watch it and buy the DVD to bring home and share with your community. This film is a great way to showcase Patsy Mink’s life’s work, and it reminds us of all she accomplished in order for everyone to be treated equally.