From left: Congressional candidate Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

HONOLULU – One decade ago, the people of Hawaii and the nation mourned the passing of a devoted champion for equality, fairness and social justice.

Rep. Patsy Takemoto Mink, known throughout her career of public service as a thoughtful and tenacious legislator, passed away on Sept. 28, 2002. On this 10th anniversary of her passing, her life and legacy were remembered Friday by several Hawaii leaders, including Rep. Mazie Hirono, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and congressional candidate Tulsi Gabbard at a gathering at Ala Wai Community Park softball field.

Hirono, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, said, “Patsy’s lifetime of accomplishments paved the way for women to have opportunities that she herself never had. Patsy was my friend and a continuing inspiration. In the time we spent together, we agreed to never give up and to always keep fighting for what was right.

“I will continue to work hard to build on her legacy by advancing our shared principles of equality, fairness and opportunity for all, especially for women, both in Hawaii and across the United States. We will continue to focus on expanding the possibilities for girls and women for generations to come.”

Hanabusa, who is running for re-election, said, “Patsy Mink led the way for many successful women by being willing to stand up and take on the challenges of her time. It’s easy today to forget the world women faced while Patsy was envisioning her own future. But she never backed down, and all Americans have benefited from her courage.

“Women in government, in business, in sports, and in their lives can now walk a path set for them by Patsy Takemoto Mink. I am proud to celebrate her life, to continue on her mission in Congress, and to encourage others to find inspiration in her example.”

Gabbard, the Democratic nominee for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District and former member of the Honolulu City Council, said, “I too am proud to honor the legacy of Patsy Mink on the 10th anniversary of her passing. She was a trailblazer who accomplished so much that made Hawaii proud, starting with Title IX. Patsy was the first woman elected to Congress from Hawaii. She was the first Asian American to seek the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party as an anti-war candidate.

“If elected to the seat she represented from Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, I will do my very best to uphold the legacy she left behind, and continue to fight for the people, including issues Patsy cared deeply about, such as legislation impacting women, and the military conflicts that continue to claim the lives of Americans.”

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, better known as Title IX, the federal law that protects students from gender discrimination in federally supported education programs and activities.

If elected, Hirono, Hanabusa and Gabbard are committed to building upon Mink’s achievements and accomplishments in education as well as other areas where gender discrimination still exists.

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