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Patsy Mink to receive Medal of Freedom

Former congreswoman's legacy was Title IX legislation

HONOLULU —Former Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink will posthumously receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

The awards will be presented at the White House on Nov. 24.

Mink broke down long-standing barriers to create equal access to opportunities for women and girls, and courageously defied those who told her she couldn't succeed simply because she was a woman.      

The late congresswoman was featured in recent documentary about the legislation's effects on female college athletics called "Rise of the Wahine".

In the 1940s, she was denied entrance to over a dozen medical schools for being a woman, but went on to attend law school and committed her entire life to changing the status quo. Many women and girls, and countless others who have benefited from her unwavering fight for equality. As a testament to the importance of her hallmark Title IX legislation, her legacy lives on in the millions of girls who today are guaranteed equal opportunities in education.

"I look forward to presenting these nineteen bold, inspiring Americans with our Nation's highest civilian honor. From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world," said President Barack Obama.

"This recognition for my friend, Patsy Mink, is well deserved and I am proud to have lent my early support to this effort. A visionary and a trailblazer, Patsy's legacy lives on in every female student and athlete in America who's been given a fair shot to compete in the classroom and on the playing field," said Sen. Mazie Hirono. "We are proud that a keiki o ka aina, born and raised on Maui, who continues to inspire all of us, has received this high honor. I commend the Hawaii Bar Association for its nomination and organizing the effort that has made this honor a reality."

"All of Hawai'i is deeply proud that Patsy Mink has been named to posthumously receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As a daughter of the islands, she fought every day of her life to make real the possibilities of equal opportunity for all and the rights of minorities and women. Her remarkable achievements were hard earned – born of her unwavering resolve and the values she learned living in Hawai'i. We know that Patsy would share this award with all of us and especially with the countless women who steadfastly carried on with the legacy and the spirit of Patsy Mink," said Sen. Brian Schatz.

"Congresswoman Mink is deeply deserving of the Presidential Media of Freedom, having demonstrated her selfless commitment to the betterment of our nation and increasing opportunities for all Americans. It is appropriate that this high honor will be given to one of Hawai'i's great leaders and a true American trailblazer," said Gabbard.

The Hawaii State Bar Association Civic Education Committee nominated Mink for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Troy Andrade, Ruth Oh, and Ted Pettit, members of the HSBA Civic Education Committee, spearheaded the effort and provided the following statement:

"The Hawaii State Bar Association Civic Education Committee is extremely proud that President Obama is recognizing one of the greatest civic leaders of our time. No one is more deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom than Congresswoman Mink. The Committee looks forward to planning several events throughout 2014 and 2015 to celebrate Congresswoman Mink's life and legacy."

The other 2014 Medal of Freedom recipients are as follows: choreographer Alvin Ailey, author Isabel Allende, former TV news anchor Tom Brokaw; civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner; physicist Mildred Dresselhaus, Rep. John Dingell, Ethel Kennedy, writer Suzan Harjo, former Congressman Abner Mikva, former Congressman Edward Roybal, golfer Charles Sifford, economist Robert Solow, composer Stephen Sondheim, actress Meryl Streep, actress Marlo Thomas and singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, 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.