IPR is featuring some of the many AAPI pioneers who impacted the field of public relations in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

Patsy Mink was born in Paia, Hawaii, in 1925 to a Sansei Japanese-American family. She grew up in a working-class community.

After graduating high school as valedictorian in 1944 and doing a year at University of Hawaii, Mink began attending school in Nebraska. Mink openly objected the University of Nebraska’s segregated dorm policy and began campaigning for change. By the next year, University of Nebraska ceased its segregation policies.

Mink applied to over ten medical schools after college and was denied due to her gender. Instead of losing steam, Mink decided to attend law school instead. She was admitted to the University of Chicago Law School and graduated in 1951. Upon returning home, Mink opened her own practice and became the first Japanese-American woman to practice law in Hawaii. During this time Mink started involving herself in the Democratic Party of Hawaii. Her efforts to register and retain young voters aided in Hawaii’s Revolution of 1954, which ended the dominance of the Republican Party of Hawaii.

In 1956, Mink was elected to Hawaii’s House of Representatives. Eight years later, Mink was elected to the United States House of Representatives. She was the first woman of color to be elected into national legislature and became the first Asian-American woman in the United States Congress.

During her six consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, Mink fought tirelessly for better education, civil rights and gender equality. She championed the protection and rights of women, children and immigrants. She was the primary author for the Title IX legislation, which brought athletic and academic equality to American schools. Mink focused her efforts towards environmental policies, examining the regional, national, and global impact of energy use.

Mink also served as Jimmy Carter’s Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. After two years, she returned to Honolulu and served on the city council while simultaneously practicing law. In 1990, Mink returned to the House of Representatives and held office until her passing on Sept. 28, 2002. Her legacy shines through her many awards, honorary degrees, and impact on the lives of millions.

Life Story: Patsy Mink (1927-2002) from the Women & the American Story website.
Patsy Takemoto Mink from the National Women’s Hall of Fame website.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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