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Finally, a biography about Maui-born, trailblazing legislator and Title IX champion Patsy T. Mink

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The first biography of Maui-born, trailblazing legislator Patsy T. Mink will be published by NYU Press on May 3.

In 2014, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Maui-born Patsy T. Mink the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying: “Every girl in Little League, every woman playing college sports, and every parent — including  Michelle and myself — who watches their daughter on a field or in the classroom is forever grateful to  the late Patsy Takemoto Mink.”

As a US Representative, Mink was a champion of the 1972 groundbreaking Title IX legislation, which made it possible for girls and women to participate in school sports, and in education more broadly, at the same level as boys and men. Upon her death in 2002, the legislation was renamed in her honor: The Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.

But it is only this year, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, that the first biography has been written about Mink, a trailblazing legislator who was the first woman of color and the first Asian American woman to be elected to Congress – in 1964.


Fierce and Fearless, co-authored by historian Judy Tzu-Chun Wu and Gwendolyn Mink, Patsy’s daughter, will be published by NYU Press on May 3. The 456-page book is available for pre-order by clicking here.

“Mink’s imprint on so many important moments — supporting the 1965 Voting Rights Act, ending the Vietnam  War, introducing Title IX — have been overlooked for far too long,” said Leandra Ruth Zarnow, author of Battling Bella: The Protest Politics of Bella Abzug.

Fierce and Fearless details the life of Mink, from her childhood growing up on Maui to her challenges and accomplishments serving in the US House of Representatives for 24 years, her final term ending with her death.

Family anecdotes, vignettes and photographs are included in the book that is a celebration of the life and legacy of a woman, activist and politician who was ahead of her time.

Mink was born in Pāʻia on Dec. 6, 1927 to Suematsu Takemoto, a civil engineer, and Mitama Tateyama Takemoto. She graduated from Maui High School in 1944 as class president and valedictorian.


After attending Wilson College in Pennsylvania and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, she graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi in 1948 with a BA in zoology and chemistry. She originally planned to pursue a medical career, but after several medical schools turned down her application, she switched to law and earned a JD from the University of Chicago Law School, the first Hawaiian nisei women to do so.

She married John Francis Mink in 1951 and they had one child, Gwendolyn, a noted political science scholar and first-hand witness to the many political struggles her mother had to overcome.

Fierce and Fearless offers new insight into who Mink was, and the progressive principles that fueled her mission. Readers get an up-close understanding of her life as a third-generation Japanese American from Hawaiʻi, including her work with noted legislators like Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and Nancy Pelosi. The authors follow the evolution of her politics, including her advocacy for race, gender and class equality and her work to  promote peace and environmental justice. 


About the Authors:  

Tzu-Chun Wu is Professor of Asian American Studies and Director of the Humanities Center at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Doctor Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: The Life of a Wartime Celebrity and Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era.

Gwendolyn Mink was Professor of Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Smith College. She is the author and editor of many books, most recently co-author of Ensuring Poverty: Welfare Reform in Feminist Perspective. 


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