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50 Years After Passage, Title IX Author Patsy Mink Remembered

University of California Irvine professor of Asian American Studies Judy Tzu-Chun Wu said Patsy Mink’s bouts with discrimination fueled her advocacy for Title IX against educational bodies that tried to exempt themselves from the civil rights law. “A lot of people associate Title IX with sports, but it’s really about all aspects of education,” Wu said. “It’s about admissions; It’s about scholarships; It’s about having a positive environment for women to be in school.”

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Patsy Mink was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. Congress. Public domain photo.
Patsy Mink was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. Congress. Public domain photo.

By McKenzie Jackson | California Black Media

Steve Prudholme traveled from Malibu to South Bend, Indiana, for 10 days last month to cheer on his daughter, Sophia, and her Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s soccer teammates in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship.

The younger Prudholme’s squad won three matches before being defeated, but her dad returned to the Golden State a happy father because his 19-year-old daughter is playing the sport she loves and getting a great college education.

“It makes me feel good to see her in that environment and also learning the trials and tribulations that sports teach you — especially from a female’s perspective,” Steve said.

The elder Prudholme said participating in sports allows Sophia to showcase her independence and strength of personality.

All of that is possible because of legislation championed by Democratic Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink of Hawaii.

Mink co-authored and spearheaded the Education Amendments of 1972, more commonly known as Title IX. The law prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives monies from the federal government.

Title IX was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972 and renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002, after Mink’s death on Sept. 28, that year.

This week Mink would have turned 95. The tireless fighter for women’s rights and equity for everyone was born Patsy Matsu Takemoto in Paia, Hawaii Territory, on Dec. 6, 1927.

Title IX ensures that young women are entitled to the same athletic chances as young men. It has been responsible for increasing the number of girls and women playing organized sports nationally.

Girl high school sports participation increased from 294,015 in the 1971-72 school year to 3.4 million in 2018-19 according to a study by the Women’s Sports Federation. Participation has risen at the collegiate level — from 29,977 athletes at NCAA schools 50 years ago to 215,486 a in 2020-21.

The educational law has helped increase female enrollment in college. Women accounted for nearly 60% of all college students by the end of the 2020-21 academic year, and women were awarded 57% of the bachelor’s degrees conferred. Additionally, women earn nearly half of all law and medical degrees. Title IX is also a framework for handling sexual misconduct complaints on campuses.

Mink, known as an educational trailblazer who changed the politics of gender, called Title IX one of her most significant accomplishments as a member of Congress.

“I take special pride in honoring its contributions to changing our view about women’s role in America,” she said.

Mink served in Congress in two stints beginning in 1965. A Japanese American, Mink was the first woman of color to be elected to Congress, four years ahead of Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress.

University of California Irvine professor of Asian American Studies Judy Tzu-Chun Wu said Mink’s bouts with discrimination fueled her advocacy for Title IX against educational bodies that tried to exempt themselves from the civil rights law.

“A lot of people associate Title IX with sports, but it’s really about all aspects of education,” Wu said. “It’s about admissions; It’s about scholarships; It’s about having a positive environment for women to be in school.”

Title IX turned 50 this year, so it and Mink have been the focus of celebrations nationally. A portrait of Mink was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol on the anniversary of Title IX’s signing by Nixon.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi called Mink an American hero.

“With this portrait, the extraordinary courage of Patsy Mink will be known to all who come to the Capitol,” Pelosi said. “Women and girls — and that’s what I love about it — will know about her and that — her relentless fighting spirit. Patsy Mink made an enormous difference for women and girls in our nation.”

Many Americans don’t know about Mink’s championing of Title IX. “Women’s history is now more inclusive but there is still a tendency to celebrate the great white foremothers,” Wu said. “Sometimes Asian Americans are left out.”

Mink attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln before graduating with a B.A. in zoology and chemistry from the University of Hawai’i in 1948.

While attending Nebraska, she was forced to live in a segregated dorm. She formed the Unaffiliated Students of the University of Nebraska for students of color who were prohibited from joining fraternities and sororities and the group succeeded in changing the university’s housing policies.

Mink’s ambition was to become a doctor, but being a woman of color, she was denied entry to 20 medical schools. She turned her focus onto earning a law degree and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School. In 1951 she married John Francis Mink, a graduate student in geology at the university.

She started her own law practice and became a lecturer at the University of Hawai’i after facing discrimination in her attempts to join a law firm.

Mink won seats in the territorial senate before Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959. In 1964, she became the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress. She won re-election five consecutive times.

Mink fought for equal rights and was against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. Her political leanings were steered by her background, Wu said.

“The society Mink grew up in was hierarchical in terms of class and race,” Wu said. “She experienced it in terms of gender. Those marginalizations shaped her desire to achieve equality.”

In 1976, Mink lost a bid for U.S. Senate. After serving as a member of the Honolulu City Council, she was re-elected to Congress in 1990 and served until her passing. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2014 by President Barack Obama.

Wu said Title IX increased gender equality, but it is not completely implemented the way Mink envisioned.

“There are still ongoing battles,” Mink had said. “There has been gender revolution, but it’s not complete. If we compared women’s lives from the ’60s and ’70s to now it would be drastically different. But again, it’s not complete.”

Shortly after Mink’s death in 2002, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), paying tribute to her friend at a Congressional memorial, reflected on a WNBA game the two women had attended.

“It was just a few months ago that I sat at the WNBA All Star Game where Patsy was honored for her 30 years of work,” Waters said. “As I looked at all of those strong, tall women out there playing and my dear child, Lisa Leslie, who won the All-Star honor that evening, I thought it was a short, little woman that caused this tall, big woman to be able to realize her dreams, to be able to hone her talents. What a wonderful moment that was.”

This Article was supported by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.

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Activism

Call to Protect Geoffrey’s Inner Circle from Threatened High-Rise Development

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by reso-lution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and cul-ture of Oakland.

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By Ken Epstein

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a downtown Oakland Cultural Center that has featured live jazz and served music lovers and the Black community for decades, is now under threat from a proposed real estate development that could undermine the stability and future of the facility.

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by resolution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and culture of Oakland.

Now, the Oakland Planning Commission is considering a high-rise building proposed by out-of-town developers next to Geoffrey’s, which would jeopardize both the survival of the venue and the Black business district as a whole.

In addition to running a business that has been a crucial institution in the local community and the regional arts scene, Geoffrey Pete, founder, has utilized his business to offer meals for thousands of unsheltered individuals and hosted countless community events.

The following petition is being circulated in defense of Geoffrey’s and the Black Arts district (To add your name to the petition, email info@geoffreyslive.com):

“The African-American community in Oakland has been seriously damaged by developers and public offcials who are willing and sometimes eager to see African Americans disappear from the city. Black people comprised 47% of the population in 1980; now they make up only 20% of said population. In response to this crisis the 14th Street Corridor from Oak to the 880 Frontage Road was established as the Black Arts Movement and Business District by the City Council on Jan. 7, 2016, in Resolution 85958.

Tidewater, an out-of-town developer, is proposing to build a high-rise building at 1431 Franklin, which will damage the Black business district and the businesses in the area including the iconic business of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 – 14th St.

We demand that the Planning Commission and the City Council reject this predatory building proposal and proceed with plans to fund and enhance the Black Business District.”

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Activism

16th Annual MLK Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway

The 16th annual MLK Day of Service in Richmond honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  was held Jan. 16 with a day of service to the community and activities for families on the Richmond Greenway.

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“…Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 16th annual MLK Day of Service in Richmond honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  was held Jan. 16 with a day of service to the community and activities for families on the Richmond Greenway.

The event was hosted by Urban Tilth and the City of Richmond. Event partners were Groundwork Richmond, Rich City Rides, Moving Forward, Hope Worldwide, The Watershed Project, Contra Costa Resource Conservation District, Building Blocks for Kids, City of Richmond, Cal Cameron Institute, Friends of the Richmond Greenway; and Pogo Park.

The celebration made possible with the support of the Hellman Family Foundation, City of Richmond, and hundreds of individual donors.

The day’s schedule included volunteer projects along the Richmond Greenway and a Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial and community celebration at Unity Park.

Among the community service projects were opportunities to take part in projects to transform and beautify the Richmond Greenway Trail, like tending to the Greenway Gardens, trash pickup, and planting native plant and trees.

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Activism

Sheng Thao Sworn in as New Mayor of Oakland, Pledges New Direction for the City

Mayor Thao provided a few minutes on the program to introduce to the community Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, the newly appointed deputy mayor, who has served as vice president of external affairs and dean of the school of education at Holy Names University, a leader of the Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) and a member of the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.

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Mayor Sheng Thao, sworn in as the 51st Mayor of Oakland, is flanked by her son Ben Ventura and her father “Richard” Nou My Thao at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, Jan. 9, 2023. Photo courtesy of Alain McLaughlin Photography.
Mayor Sheng Thao, sworn in as the 51st Mayor of Oakland, is flanked by her son Ben Ventura and her father “Richard” Nou My Thao at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, Jan. 9, 2023. Photo courtesy of Alain McLaughlin Photography.

Mayor Thao appoints HNU’s Dr. Kimberly Mayfield as deputy mayor

By Ken Epstein

Sheng Thao, a daughter of Hmong refugees who overcame homelessness and domestic abuse to attend university and build a life for herself and her family in Oakland, received the official oath of office Monday afternoon as the new mayor of the City of Oakland.

Sworn in at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Oakland by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, she stood on stage surrounded by friends, family, and staff members. She was flanked by her son Ben Ventura, who performed a musical piece on the cello, and her father “Richard” Nou My Thao.

The mayor called on Oaklanders to join with her to create a more humane, inclusive, and just city. She spoke about her commitment as a progressive to significantly improve the quality of life for residents, making the city safer and cleaner, building 30,000 units of truly affordable housing, fostering jobs, promoting economic development, supporting small businesses and providing solutions to homelessness that recognize the dignity of the unsheltered.

“I know what we can do together, Oakland,” she said. “Our city’s’ best days are still to come. The Oakland that we all know is possible and within our reach.”

Newly appointed Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield (left) with Mayor Sheng Thao. Photo courtesy of Alain McLaughlin Photography.

Newly appointed Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield (left) with Mayor Sheng Thao. Photo courtesy of Alain McLaughlin Photography.

Mayor Thao provided a few minutes on the program to introduce to the community Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, the newly appointed deputy mayor, who has served as vice president of external affairs and dean of the school of education at Holy Names University, a leader of the Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) and a member of the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.

In her remarks, the mayor focused on the city’s long fight to become more inclusive and equitable.

“We believe everyone deserves a seat at the table, not just a few, not just the wealthy, not just the well-connected,” she said.

“Sometimes, we take our shared progressive values for granted, our advances toward justice and equality,” said Mayor Thao.

She reminded people that “a…century ago, our city was dominated by members of the Ku Klux Klan (where) Klan members burned crosses in our hills and marched through our streets. As recently as the1970s, freeways were made possible by tearing down thriving Black, Latino, and Asian communities,” she continued.

“We recognize what we have overcome together to remember what is worth fighting for every day…(and) to take stock of how far we still have to go.”

Promising a “comprehensive” approach to public safety to make all neighborhoods in the city safer, she said she would bolster anti-crime programs like Ceasefire and “we will fill (police) vacancies with home-grown police officers who know our community, who look like us.”

At the same time, she said, the city must increase opportunities for young people, reinvigorating the summer jobs program (for youth) and enhance the school-to-work pipeline so young people can gain experience and job skills.

She said she would beef up the many city departments that are currently operating on skeleton staffing, promising to fill the staffing vacancies that “plague our city.”

Mayor Thao said she herself is a renter, and that she “will fiercely protect Oakland renters. If you are a renter in Oakland, you’ve got a mayor who’s got your back.”

Speaking about the Oakland A’s proposed waterfront real estate development promoted by former Mayor Libby Schaaf, Mayor Thao said the city will continue negotiations to keep the team “rooted in Oakland.”

“Working closely with the A’s, I’m hopeful we can reach a good deal, (based) on our Oakland values,” she said.

The former mayor’s plan for building the proposed waterfront real estate development at the Port of Oakland was dealt a major setback this week when Oakland failed to secure more than $180 million in federal funds to help pay for infrastructure development for the project.

Speaking of the importance of the appointment of Mayfield as deputy mayor, the Mayor’s Office explained her role in the new administration:

“Mayor Thao was thrilled Kimberly Mayfield agreed to join her team because of her tremendous and longstanding leadership in Oakland. In recognition of her vast experience, it was decided that the best role for her would be as deputy mayor where she will be an instrumental part of the leadership of both the Office and Oakland.”

In her introduction at the Paramount Theatre, Mayfield said, “Today is not about political agendas…It’s about the power of the people…it’s a recognition of the rejection of the status quo. This new chapter begins with a mayor that understands how to build a culture that works for everyone. Thank you, Mayor Thao for the opportunity to serve.”

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