Maui Patsy Mink remembered on 50th anniversary of landmark Title IX passage
June 19, 2022, 6:00 AM HST
Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, landmark legislation that ensures access, equality, and justice for women in both academics and athletics.
Maui’s own Patsy Mink co-authored the amendment, which passed in 1972, and was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in her honor in 2022.
Mink was born and raised in Hamakuapoko, Maui, and is described by many as a “trailblazer,” for her tenacity, leadership, and persistence.
She accomplished many firsts, including recognition as the first Japanese-American woman to practice law in Hawaiʻi, and becoming the first Asian American and woman of color elected to serve in Congress in 1964.
In 2014, Mink was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for her contributions to the US.
Patsy Takemoto Mink Endowed chair of Law & Social Justice
Now, to honor Mink and her vision, the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law is establishing and has launched fundraising for a special faculty position called an endowed chair.
The endowed chair will provide a Law School faculty member with consistent funding “to advance instructional programs, to develop new research ideas, to fund students’ work, and to create programming” that directly honors Mink.
“Linking Mink to this special position at the Law School broadens and extends her remarkable legacy. It promises that her courage, insight, and persistence will be carried into the future by the selected professor through her or his scholarly speaking and writing, teaching and inspiring students, and service to communities still struggling for justice,” according to the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation.
“For me, Patsy Mink symbolizes sort of the very best of our community, the very best that we can achieve in terms of ensuring access and equality for everyone here in Hawaiʻi and across the United States,” said Troy J.H. Andrade, Associate Professor of Law at the UH Mānoa, William S. Richardson School of Law in a UH video highlighting the program.
The endowed chair position will also ensure sustained support for two projects that embody Mink’s vision: the Mink Legislative Fellowship, and the Ulu Lehua Scholars Program.
The fellowship was established in 2003 by women law students, a year after Mink’s death. As part of the fellowship program, one student is selected each year and is sent to Washington D.C. to get hands-on experience working with a Senator or Congressperson to shape public policy, according to Andrade.
The Ulu Lehua Scholars Program was established in 1974 and provides an opportunity for 10-12 students each year to get a high-quality legal education and UH. The students selected are from underserved communities, who have overcome adversity, demonstrated academic potential, leadership ability, and commitment to social justice.
“Never in their wildest dreams would my people have imagined that one of their own would be standing amongst the privileged, learning the skills necessary to effectively advocate on behalf of Maoli value systems and social justice,” said Luʻukia Nakanelua of Maui, an Ulu Lehua Scholar in a UH Foundation brochure on the program. “The Lehua Program made that possible,” she said.
In a UH Foundation video describing the endowed chair program, Andrade said:
How to help: The UH Foundation is currently accepting donations to fund the Patsy Takemoto Mink Endowed Chair for Law and Social Justice. According to the Foundation, donations will help to ensure social justice programs will continue at the law school, training generations of lawyers to fight against all discrimination as Mink did. Donations can be made online at the UH Foundation website.
Mink’s legacy lives on: Residents remember positive impacts
Earlier this year, Patsy Mink was recognized as part of Women’s History Month on Maui in May.
“It is time to reflect on the courageous women in past generations whose efforts continue to benefit the women of today. Here in Maui County, the person who immediately comes to mind is Patsy Mink,” said Mayor Victorino during a press conference on March 4, 2022.
“For all of us who remember Patsy Mink, she was a local girl, born in Pāʻia, born as Patsy Takemoto, who entered into politics and got elected as a junior class president at Maui High School–which back then, was almost unheard of,” said Mayor Victorino.
She was accepted to the University of Chicago Law School, was elected to the US House of Representatives, and was instrumental in the passage of Title IX.
“At the time she was a rare voice in government for women’s equality,” said Mayor Victorino.
A proclamation, read by community liaison Bill Snipes said:
“Whereas, with those words, Patsy Mink and her contributions became indelibly etched in American law, education, and culture. And whereas, as a direct result of her efforts, hope transformed into reality,” according to the proclamation.
Kaimana Brummel received Maui County’s first full Division I, Title IX scholarship in volleyball for a Maui girl.
“Growing up as an active girl in Wailuku, my mom, Diane Lee, talked a lot about Patsy Mink, and a lot about Title IX,” said Brummell during the Mayor’s press briefing. “Like Patsy, I was educated in the moku of Hamakuapoko; and like Patsy, access to education really made the difference in my life. Unlike Patsy, my path was much easier, thanks to her work and many women like her.”
Brummel was able to leverage her athletic ability to further her education and compete in sports. “The best part was that while I was the first, I was not the last. Dozens of girls since me have leveraged sports and their athletic talent to receive scholarships to play sports,” she said.
Brummel said she got her start playing at the County run Pāʻia Gym. “No matter where my volleyball career took me after that, from Washington D.C., across the US, and even to Colorado Springs with Team USA at the Olympic Training Center, I have always been proud that it started in Pāʻia, in Hamakuapoko, just like Patsy.”
Their paths crossed when Brummel was a sixth grader at Kalama Intermediate School, and wrote Mink a letter telling her how much she appreciated Mink’s work with Title IX, and how she wanted to play college sports one day.
Mink responded by visiting the school a few weeks later, gave an inspirational speech about pursuing education, “and told us to fight for our dreams,” Brummel recalled.
That dream became a reality when Brummel earned a D-I volleyball scholarship that took her to Washington, D.C. where she attended The George Washington University and double-majored in International Affairs and Geography.
She continued saying, “For me, Patsy and her tremendous legacy is not only that she broke barriers, and that she was the first to do so many, but that she wasn’t the last. And she did the hard work to ensure that,” said Brummel.
Brummel made a conscious decision to return Maui to work and raise her own children. “I have so much aloha for the women who have taught… mentored and helped move my career forward. They are the women who have encouraged me and frankly kicked my butt when I really needed it,” she said.
Mink is quoted as saying: “We have to build things that we want to see accomplished, in life and in our country, based on our own personal experiences… to make sure that others… do not have to suffer the same discrimination.” (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Oct. 8, 1975)
Fierce & Fearless Book Discussion at UHMC
A discussion takes place this Tuesday, June 21, at 10:30 a.m., at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Campus, on the book Fierce and Fearless.
The book is co-authored by Judy Wu and Patsy Mink’s daughter Gwendolyn Mink, and is the first biography of Maui-born and raised Congresswoman Patsy Mink, the champion of Title IX legislation which gave equal rights to women in federally-funded educational programs.
The event is sponsored by the American Association of American Women Maui Branch, and takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at ʻIke Leʻa room 144.
Judy Wu will make a live presentation and Gwendolyn Mink will appear remotely at this event.
“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.” – President Barack Obama, on posthumously awarding Mink the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.
Register to Attend: Fierce & Fearless Book Discussion, 6-21-22 RSVP
“Rise of the Wahine: Champions of Title IX”
Free community screening, TBA
A free community screening of “Rise of the Wahine: Champions of Title IX” will be held in the coming weeks on Maui. (Time and date TBA).
“In the years following the Civil Rights movement and the passage of Title IX in 1972, a headstrong African American female coach, the first Asian American US congresswoman, and the team captain of a female volleyball team battled discrimination from the halls of Washington DC to the dusty volleyball courts of the University of Hawai‘i, fighting for the rights of young women to play sports,” according to film synopsis.
An earlier screening for the film explained that it “reveals how change-makers overcome injustice with wisdom, an innovative spirit and without becoming victims to their circumstances.”
Rise of the Wahine was released in August of 2018. Credits include: directed, written, and produced by Dean Kaneshiro; Produced by Tiffany Taylor; Co-produced by Ryan Kalei Tsuji; Music composed by Paulette Wooten.
Hawaiʻi State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division hosts free legal clinics in June
The Young Lawyers Division of the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association is hosting Law Week 2022 from Monday, June 20 to Friday, June 26.
One of YLD’s yearly projects is its Law Week program—a week dedicated to improving the legal profession and highlighting the important roles of attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals in the community.
As part of Law Week, the YLD is offering free virtual and in-person legal clinics to the public statewide.
More information is available here.