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AAPI Heritage Month

Since 1991, the month of May has marked Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to honor and celebrate the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched our collective history and helped build towards a better, more inclusive future. Today we’re recognizing two political leaders and trailblazers, Norman Mineta and Patsy Mink, who were advocates for environmental justice and civil rights. They both helped pave the way for Asian Americans to pursue careers in environment, infrastructure, politics, and legislation.

Norman Mineta

We’re remembering and honoring the life of Norman Mineta, the first Asian American Cabinet secretary and first Asian American mayor of a major city. He was the son of two Japanese immigrants and spent two years wrongfully detained at an Internment Camp. He later went on to secure Congressional reparations for survivors of those very internment camps.

Mineta also had a life-long career in politics and was the longest-serving Secretary in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the first Asian-American Cabinet member during the Clinton administration. He later served 10-terms as a Democratic congressman from San Jose, California. Mineta also served in President George W. Bush's Cabinet, the only Democratic Cabinet Secretary in the Bush administration. During his time in Congress, he went on to push hundreds of bills advancing infrastructure improvement, the environment, and civil rights.

Mineta’s life continues to be an inspiration for leaders paving the way for Asian-Americans in politics.

Patsy Mink

In 1964, Patsy Takemoto Mink, a third-generation Japanese American, became the first Congresswoman of color and the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress. Mink was also the first Hawaiian nisei woman to earn a JD from the University of Chicago Law School. Mink had a life-long career in politics and served for more than 20 years in Congress. She first served for Hawaii’s territorial house and senate and eventually in the U.S. Congress for two terms from 1965 to 1977 and again from 1990 to 2002.

During this time, Mink was a champion of women's rights, education, and a leader in environment, welfare, and civil rights. Mink was a veteran politician and helped create and pass the first ever childcare bill and the Title IX Educational Amendments Act of 1972, two pieces of landmark legislation.

Mink’s efforts and work continue to shape legislation today, read more about her life here:


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