In 1975, Norman Mineta was sworn in as the first Japanese American member of Congress elected from the lower 48 states. He would win election 10 times and serve 21 years in the House of Representatives. (Mineta Legacy Project)

WASHINGTON — Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements in honor of former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, who died on May 3 at the age of 90.

CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena): “I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Secretary Norman Mineta, a political giant. He was the first Asian American to serve as mayor of a major American city, a 10-term congressman, a Cabinet Secretary for both Democrat and Republican administrations, and the founding chair of CAPAC.

“Generations of Asian American leaders, including myself, have looked up to Norm as the perfect example of an outstanding public servant. Despite all he accomplished, he always prioritized opening doors for future AANHPI leaders. He showed us how much we could achieve and pulled us up with him, and especially valued mentoring young people, like students and interns, who were interested in advocating for our communities.

“As the founding chair of CAPAC and in all the roles he took on, he was a powerful advocate for all our communities. In Congress, he pushed through landmark legislation for the U.S. government to apologize and provide redress for the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II, something he personally experienced, and he also built the foundations of our caucus.

“Norm left his mark and he left our country better off. My thoughts are with his family members and loved ones.”

Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), CAPAC first vice chair: “Norman Mineta was a trailblazer and an outstanding public servant who served as a mayor, congressman and the first Asian American appointed to be a Cabinet secretary. He made immense contributions to our nation and was the co-founder and first chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“I am saddened to learn about his passing. He leaves an incredible legacy behind and the extraordinary work he did will never be forgotten. I send my deepest sympathies to his loved ones at this difficult time.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC second vice chair: “Norm was a friend and mentor who had a profound impact on my life. He personally encouraged countless AAPIs to get involved with politics, generously giving of his time. He inspired so many Japanese Americans, especially Niseis, to understand how imperative political participation was to defend civil liberties for all Americans.

“An early supporter of LGBTQ equality, he used his moral stature to persuade the Japanese American Citizens League meeting in convention in 1994 to be the first non-LGBTQ civil rights organization to embrace same-sex unions.

“As transportation secretary during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Norm not only gave orders to ground all commercial flights, but he is also credited by President George W. Bush for being a voice of restraint against any reprisals against Muslim Americans in Cabinet-level meetings.

“He channeled his own personal history into making America a better country. His contributions will not soon be forgotten.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), CAPAC Whip: “I am immensely saddened to hear of the passing of Former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. He was a trailblazer who served as a mayor, 10-term congressman, and a Cabinet secretary in two administrations. He also paved the way to create the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

“During his time in the House of Representatives, he led efforts to secure compensation for Japanese Americans who were wrongfully interned during World War II. I am grateful for the work Norman Mineta did for the Asian American community and join my colleagues in mourning his passing.”

Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii), CAPAC freshman representative: “I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Norman Mineta, an iconic public figure and inspiration to the Asian American community. Forced into a Japanese (American) internment camp during World War II, Norman sought to correct this injustice by becoming a force for change. He would go on to lead the United States’ official apology and compensation for interned Japanese Americans.

“Later, he continued to devote his life to public service, reaching the highest office of any Asian American at the time. Today, while many in our community still face racism and hate, Norman’s resilience and patriotism continues to inspire hope.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “I am saddened to learn about the passing of my friend Norman Mineta and my deepest condolences go to his wife Deni and his family. He was a trailblazer for the AANHPI community in public service – the first Asian American to lead a major U.S. city, the first to hold a presidential Cabinet post as secretary of commerce, and the first to serve as secretary of transportation.

“Norm was an inspiration to many and a respected member of the AANHPI community. He will be greatly missed.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.): “Secretary Mineta was an incredible leader and fearless champion for people’s rights, with a well of expertise and an exemplary record of service. A first-generation Japanese American who was held in an internment camp himself, he never forgot his roots, even as he rose in the ranks of public service, becoming the first Asian American Cabinet secretary and co-founder of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“Secretary Mineta was instrumental in securing the deserved apology and financial compensation for the cruel and unjust internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. His leadership was inspiring and will live on with us for generations. My heartfelt thoughts and condolences are with his family during this painful time.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara): “I’m very sorry to hear of Norm Mineta’s passing. He overcame immense adversity as an imprisoned Japanese American in the US during World War II and went on to serve as a councilman, the mayor of San Jose, a member of Congress, and a Cabinet official under two presidents.

“Norm remains one of my personal heroes. As the first Asian American Cabinet official, he was a trailblazer and his counsel and mentorship on transportation issues is something I’ll always cherish. My condolences are with Norm’s family and the entire South Bay community mourning his loss.”

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “Today, we have lost a great American and a champion of the Japanese American community with the passing of my dear friend Norm Mineta. Norm was a talented legislator and a dedicated public servant – using his wealth of knowledge and expertise to craft policy that transformed the American transportation sector and lifted up everyday Americans. Norm was also a passionate advocate for civil rights and our Japanese American community.

“Together with my late husband Bob and their colleagues, they worked to pass the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 – fighting tirelessly to educate Americans about the terrible prejudice and injustice that led to Japanese American incarceration during World War II. This passion for justice extended to all his work, and Norm was a champion for the voiceless and the underrepresented.

“He knew that we have this wonderfully diverse nation – and it works best when we can come together to solve our toughest problems. Norm’s extraordinary leadership and legacy will live on in all those who knew him. My prayers are with all of Norm’s loved ones during this difficult time.”

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