Patsy Takemoto Mink will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom 12 years after her death.

President Barack Obama today named 19 recipients of the medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

According to the White House, it is “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 awards will be presented at the White House on Nov. 24.

Rep. Patsy Mink and the audience applaud during Remembrance Day ceremonies at the USS ARIZONA Memorial Visitors Center.  USS ARIZONA  survivors are honored during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Patsy Mink during ceremonies at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center on the 50th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.


Other recipients named today include Tom Brokaw, Ethel Kennedy, Stephen Sondheim, Meryl Streep, Stevie Wonder and civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered in the 1960s.

Mink was a congresswoman from Hawaii who served a total of 12 terms. Born and raised on Maui, she became the first Japanese-American female attorney in Hawaii and served in the Hawaii territorial and state Legislatures beginning in 1956.

In 1964, Mink 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.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation issued statements today welcoming the medal for Mink.

“Her work ethic was unmatched; her commitment to justice for all deep and abiding. There was simply no one like her – ever,” said Abercrombie. “Caring and compassionate, insightful and inspiring – she will always be in our memories as the gold standard of public service.”

Last year, the late Sen. Dan Inouye of Hawaii was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


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