If readers need a portrait of America’s democracy in action, look no further than the new short documentary Mink! The newest film from director Ben Proudfoot, fresh off his Oscar win for The Queen of Basketball, and executive producer Naomi Osaka, offers a worthy portrait of Representative Patsy Mink of Hawaii. The film, released yesterday via The New York Times Op-Docs, considers how Mink broke barriers as the first women of colour elected to Congress, and eventually played a role writing and defending Title IX. The piece of American law was signed in 1972 to prohibit any discrimination on the basis of sex any participation in education or activities that receive Federal funding.
The film, narrated by Mink’s daughter Wendy and shot with an intimate direct address in the fashion of The Queen of Basketball, reflects upon the politician’s strength and perspective. The film considers the discrimination Mink faced as a Japanese-American especially in the aftermath of World War II, and how she translated her experience into enacting substantial change through her work in office. The benefits of Title IX extended to all facets of American life, including sports, which opened the door for people like The Queen of Basketball subject Lucy Harris to excel on the court. In a piece for The New York Times, Proudfoot writes that his research for The Queen of Basketball introduced him to Mink and the concentric circles of Harris’s story.
“As the first woman of color elected to Congress, Ms. Mink — and her path to office — was influenced by the discrimination she experienced in her personal and professional lives,” writes Proudfoot. “As I learned more about the early history of Title IX in the 1970s, I found that lobbyists and legislators mounted a formidable campaign to dilute and erode the law. This effort would culminate in a dramatic moment on the House floor, where Ms. Mink was pulled away during a crucial vote on the future of the law.”
As a marker of Mink’s courage, the law was officially renamed the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act following her death in 2002.
Watch Mink! Below: