Rep. Patsy Mink to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama named 19 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including the late Rep. Patsy Takemoto Mink, in a White House statement issued Nov. 10.

The medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor, “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” the statement said. The awards will be presented at the White House Nov. 24.

Mink served her home state of Hawai‘i for 12 terms. She was born and raised on Maui, and was the first Japanese American female attorney in Hawai‘i, where she served in the Hawai‘i territorial and state legislatures beginning in 1956, the statement said. In 1964, she became the first woman of color elected to Congress. 

She is best known for co-authoring and championing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act after her death in 2002. The bill prohibits discrimination based on gender in federally funded educational institutions.

Suzan Harjo, “a writer, curator, and activist who has advocated for improving the lives of Native peoples throughout her career,” will also receive the medal. As a member of the Carter Administration and as current president of the Morning Star Institute, she has advocated for the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.  Harjo is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, and a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. 

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