A posthumous portrait of Hawaiian Representative Patsy Mink was unveiled June 24, 2022, in the National Statuary Hall on the 50th anniversary of Title IX. The portrait was painted by Gallery Henoch artist Sharon Sprung and will hang in the US Capitol after its presentation by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Representative Mink started serving in the House of Representatives in 1965, being the first woman of color and first Asian American woman elected to Congress. Mink was a driving force behind legislation fighting for women’s rights, social justice, and Asian Americans, but is most celebrated for her half-century fight against sexual discrimination with Title IX, which made it illegal for federally funded programs to discriminate on the basis of sex.
Representing such an impactful figure is no small feat, and Sprung created Patsy Mink’s portrait with great care. The artist said, “I was honored to be selected to paint this portrait of Representative Patsy Mink. I immersed myself in who she was when she started in Congress through collections of videos, photos, personal writings, and personal experiences. The painting reveals a woman committed to hard work which she executed with enthusiasm and an overwhelming sense of optimism to make changes in Congress. Her work benefited her constituents in Hawaii and changed women’s ability to participate in education and sport throughout the entire country.”
Growing up during WWII in Hawaii as a third-generation Japanese American was difficult for Mink, as Japanese Americans were being put in internment camps and were nationally discriminated against, two fights she would pursue throughout her career. In 1951, she was the first Hawaiian Nisei woman to graduate with a JD from the University of Chicago Law school. Facing prejudice along the way, she began private law practice while teaching law at the University of Hawaii and was elected to the territorial house of representatives in Hawaii in 1956. Patsy Mink went on to serve in 13 congresses during her political career. Her unwavering commitment to what she thought was right remained resilient in the face of adversity. Her fight against sexual discrimination culminated with the signing of Title IX, which, along with much of Patsy Mink’s legislative work, continues to have an impact on the country today.