Patsy Mink

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Patsy Mink circa 1965

Patsy Matsu Mink (December 6, 1927 – September 28, 2002) was an American attorney and politician from the U.S. state of Hawaii. In 1964, Mink ran for federal office and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first woman of color and the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress, and also the first woman elected to Congress from the state of Hawaii. She served a total of 12 terms (24 years), split between representing Hawaii's at-large congressional district from 1965–77 and second congressional district from 1990–2002.



1967 address to Congress


1967 address to Congress, in Voices of Multicultural America: Notable Speeches Delivered by African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans, 1790-1995 by Deborah Gillan Straub (1995)

  • According to Attorney Koota, I wonder how many generations must we be Americans to be steeped with this spirit of Americanism with which he believes he is possessed? Can it be said that only Hawaii has a foreign ideology as its background and not Brooklyn, New York, or any city in this country where its people are of immigrant stock?
  • America is not a country which needs to demand conformity of its people, for its strength lies in all our diversities converging in one common belief

1971 speech


1971 speech, in Voices of Multicultural America: Notable Speeches Delivered by African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans, 1790-1995 by Deborah Gillan Straub (1995)

  • Although Congress has repealed the Emergency Detention Act, the fight for freedom is not over. We now see a new witch hunt proclaimed in which all government employees will be examined for their memberships and organizations. It seems that we have not yet succeeded in expunging the notion that "dangerous" persons can be identified by class or group relationships and punished accordingly. I believe that nobody can find safety in numbers-by huddling with the larger mass in hopes of being overlooked. Those who seek to suppress will always find ways to single out others. Instead, we must change the basic attitude that all must conform or be classed as renegades and radicals. Our nation was founded on the idealistic belief in individualism and pioneering spirit, and it would be tragic for our own generation to forswear that ideal for the false security of instant assimilation.
  • The World War II detention overnight reduced the entire population of one national origin to an enemy, stripped of property, rights of citizenship, human dignity, and due process of law, without so much as even a stifled voice of conscience among our leading scholars or civil libertarians. More recently, the Vietnam War has reinforced the view of Orientals as something less than fully human. All Vietnamese stooping in the rice fields are pictured as the enemy, subhuman without emotions and for whom life is less valuable than for us.
  • We must teach our country that life is no less valuable, and human dignity no less precious, in Asia than elsewhere.
  • A lack of appreciation for the value of human life can occur wherever totalitarian government exists. This makes it more than vital for us to oppose such influences within our own country wherever they may occur. The war in Vietnam has lasted for seven years. If Americans believed there was the same worth in the life of an Asian, this war would have ended long ago. If Americans were willing to concede that the Asian mind was no different than his, a peace would have been forged in Paris long ago. I am convinced that racism is at the heart of this immoral policy.
  • All of the systems of the world today have this in common: for they are mainly concerned with industrialization, efficiency, and gross national product; the value of man is forgotten.
  • The children of some of you here tonight are involved in the great protests of today-are they chronic malcontents and subversives? I think not-I think they are probably fairly well-educated, thoughtful people who see certain conditions they don't like and are trying to do something about it. I'm not sure they know exactly what they want to do. I do know they are clearly dissatisfied with the way their world has been run in the past. So, the problem is not what to do about dissent among our young people-the problem is what to do about the causes of this dissent. The question is not "how to suppress the dissent" but how to make it meaningful... how to make it productive of a better society which truly places high value on individual human beings as human beings and not merely as so many cogs in the great, cold and impersonal machinery of an industrialized society.
  • so many of our children are growing up in complete isolation in a society that places a premium on conformity, in middle-class homes where parents still want to play down their differences, and prefer to homogenize with society. Some of these children are rebelling and are seeking ways to preserve their uniqueness and their special heritage. I see pride and strength in this. One of the most promising avenues for this renewed search for one's heritage is in our school systems-the logical place for instructing children in the knowledge they need. Programs of ethnic heritage studies are needed in our schools.
  • We cannot and must not presume knowledge about Asia merely because we are Asians
  • I hope that all Japanese American organizations and others with strong beliefs in the magnificent history and culture of the Orient will now help lead the way to a more enlightened America. We have an immense story to tell, for as I have said the public at large too often assumes that all civilization is Western and no worth is given to the human values of the East. As long as this belief persists, we will have future Vietnams. The way to counteract it is to build public knowledge, through school courses, travel, and dedicated emphasis on increased communications, so that our people will know and appreciate all that is Asian.
  • They need the guidance and support of their parents to succeed, but in any event with or without us, they are trying. It behooves us to do all we can to accept their aspirations, if not all of their actions, in the hope that this new generation will be able to find a special role for themselves in America, to help build her character, to define her morality, to give her a depth in soul, and to make her realize the beauty of our diverse society with many races and cultures of which we are one small minority.

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