The late Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink was posthumously honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom Monday.
President Obama presented the medal to Mink’s daughter, Wendy, at the White House.
“Every girl in little league, every woman playing college sports and every parent, including Michelle and myself, who watches their daughter on a field and in the classroom is forever grateful to the late Patsy Takemoto Mink. I’m particularly grateful because she was my congresswoman for a long time,” he said. “Patsy was many firsts, including the first woman of color in Congress and, to those of us in Hawaii, she represented the very best of public service and the Aloha spirit. And if she was a first, she dedicated her life to making sure that she would not be the last, from championing for civil rights to fighting against gender discrimination, Patsy was a passionate advocate for opportunity and equality and realizing the full promise of the American dream.”
Mink represented Hawaii twice in the House of Representatives from 1965 to 1977, and again from 1990 until the year of her death in 2002.
The following citation accompanies Mink’s award and was read aloud during the ceremony:
Patsy Takemoto Mink was ahead of her time. The first woman of color elected to Congress, she entered office determined to do all she could to ensure equal treatment for every American, regardless of race or sex. She co-authored Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, guaranteeing equal educational opportunities for women. She was a forceful advocate for civil rights legislation and for a sensible end to the Vietnam War. She served her beloved Hawaii with integrity and grace all her life. An American trailblazer, Patsy Takemoto Mink helped build a nation that lives up to its promise, and her example challenges us to make progress in our time.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Eighteen other individuals also received a medal, including the late choreographer Alvin Ailey, author Isabel Allende, television journalist Tom Brokaw, longtime Michigan Representative John Dingell, Ethel Kennedy, economist Robert Solow, theater composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, Meryl Streep and Stevie Wonder.