Kate Rigg on Patsy Mink

“There was no NO. There was always YES AND.”

PATSY TAKEMOTO MINK, a 5'3" dynamo from Hawaii, was a brilliant and determined attorney/politician dedicated to social justice who led a lifetime of firsts (the first woman of color elected to Congress, for one!). Patsy’s greatest legacy was the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act, prohibiting gender discrimination. Countless girls and women have benefited from this law, gaining access to classes, programs, sports teams and more, proving over and over that given a level playing field — women compete and win. In her inimitable style, actor/activist Kate Rigg thrills us with the story of this tiny firebrand, informing us why we are all indebted to the amazing Patsy Mink. Our storytellers share these astonishing women with us conversationally and unscripted; we fact-check afterwards and note any major discrepancies for accuracy.


Kate Rigg

Artist Activist Kate Siahaan-Rigg is a graduate of the Juilliard School drama division. Her solo shows on the Asian American Experience have toured the world and she is a frequent host for events from the Kennedy Center to Harvard University to the GMHC to the ACLU to The Dolores Huerta Foundation Center for Peace and  Justice. She is the creative director for the nations only diversity film festival hosted by the disability community and is a frequent speaker on race and representation. @kateriggnyc on insta

Featured Woman

Patsy Mink

PATSY TAKEMOTO MINK was a 12 term Congresswoman. Born in 1927 in Hawaii, she knew by age 4 that insisting on anything just might get her what she wanted. Graduating high school as the valedictorian, Patsy wanted to become a doctor. She studied at U. of Hawaii, then moved to U. of Nebraska. She encountered so much racism and segregation she started her own student union, became it’s president and eventually, changed the rules at the university to allow students of color to participate equally in campus life. Illness sent her back to Hawaii. She graduated but applying to a dozen medical schools proved devastating. None would allow her in because she was a woman. In 1946 she went to law school in Chicago.

After graduating and back in Hawaii, Patsy could not get hired so she hung out her own shingle and represented cases that most attorneys didn’t want to handle. By 1955, Patsy also ran for and won, a local Democratic House seat. By 1960, she was speaking at the Dem. Nat’l Convention. And in 1964, Patsy became the first woman of color and the first Asian-American woman to get elected to the US Congress. Twelve terms. Twenty-four years. Title IX, her phenomenal legacy bill states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”. Patsy went back to Hawaii, was appointed by Pres. Jimmy Carter as Asst. Sec. of State for Oceans & Int’nat’l, Environmental & Scientific Affairs. In 2002, Patsy again ran for Congress. She developed chicken pox, then pneumonia and then passed away before she was elected. In 2014, Pres. Obama awarded her, posthumously, the Medal of Freedom.