Original Offenders: Patsy Takemoto Mink
Today is the last “Super Tuesday” aka the end of the Primary season and, sorry Bernie bros, but looks like you’ll soon be really feeling the bern and this historic election is going to result in either the first female President or the first Oompa Loompa American President.
But if we want to talk about something truly unprecedented and historic when it comes to this topic, we have to look back to 1972 when Patsy Takemoto Mink ran to seek the Democratic nomination for the Presidential nomination (1972 saw African American Shirley Chisholm also seeking the Democratic Presidential nom). And if you don’t know who Mink was–she wasn’t just another pretender to the throne, she had real bona-fide credentials.
A third-generation Japanese American born on the island of Maui in 1927 (she died of viral pneumonia in 2002 at the age of 74), she became the first woman of color to serve in the House of Representatives representing Hawaii’s first and second congressional districts and the first woman elected to Congress from Hawaii–serving a whopping 12 terms.
In 1972, she sought the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination. She also served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus and, among other accomplishments, co-authored Title IX (renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002)–the law responsible for tripling women’s college enrollment and increasing their participation in sports by 904% (click here to read her bio).
The reality may be that a woman of color like Mink or Chisholm may have had no real chance of winning the Democratic nomination, let alone the presidency, in 1972 (though as Chisholm pointed out when asked why she ran against those odds, “someone had to do it first”), but what they accomplished over four decades ago really puts this election in perspective. While it’s historic that Hillary Clinton, a woman, has a genuine chance of being elected to the highest office, we also have the troll on a roll, Donald Trump.
I’ll be the first to admit that Clinton is by no means a perfect candidate, but if someone like Trump had said he was running for the Presidency in 1972, I’m pretty confident he would’ve been laughed off the American stage. Which goes to show how far we haven’t come and why it’s important that Asian Americans turn out to vote this year to protect and uphold the real American ideals and values that a pioneer like Patsy Mink fought all her life for.