Patsy Mink

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Talk about a trailblazer: Patsy Mink, a third-generation Japanese-American, became the first Asian-American woman (and the first woman from an ethnic minority group) to be elected to the United States Congress in 1964.

In her four decades there, she worked to amplify the voices and rights of immigrants, women and children. Mink also aggressively championed Title IX, the legislation that brought academic and athletic equity to American educational institutions.

“It is easy enough to vote right and be consistently with the majority,” she once said of her lone-wolf voting track record. “But it is more often more important to be ahead of the majority, and this means being willing to cut the first furrow in the ground and stand alone for a while if necessary.”

In 1972, Mink became the first Asian-American to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. On the eve of the 2016 election, Mink’s daughter, Gwendolyn, reflected on her mother’s enduring legacy.

“My mother taught me that an election is not an end in itself, but rather an opening to do the hard work of securing justice, peace and the well being of all,” she wrote.