WASHINGTON — Wendy Mink, daughter of Rep. Patsy Takemoto Mink (D-Hawaii), received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on her mother’s behalf from President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House on Monday.
The late congresswoman — who served in the House of Representatives from 1965 to 1977, and from 1990 until her death in 2002 — was one of 16 individuals honored. The medal is reserved for those who have made “meritorious contributions” to U.S. security, world peace or cultural endeavors.
The following citation was read at 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.”
“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,” Obama said. “I’m particularly grateful because she was my congresswoman for a long time.
“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.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who attended the ceremony, commented, “Patsy’s hard work, perseverance and dedication to public service paved the way for women to have opportunities many of us didn’t have growing up. Patsy Mink continues to be an inspiration to us all. This recognition by the president is deeply deserved.”
Other recipients included Rep. John Dingell, former Rep. Edward Roybal (posthumous), Isabel Allende, Ethel Kennedy, Meryl Streep, Marlo Thomas, Tom Brokaw, Stevie Wonder, and civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (posthumous).