Patsy for President: Patsy Takemoto Mink, Cold War Liberalism, and the Viet Nam War

Lecture Description

In 1972, Patsy Takemoto Mink, a third generation Japanese American and the first woman of color U.S. Congressional representative, ran for the U.S. Presidency. This paper analyzes her decision to run for the highest elected office in the land in the context of Mink’s racial liberalism in the midst of the Cold War and the Viet Nam War. A committed pacifist yet loyal Democratic Party member, Mink attempted to both support President Johnson, particularly because of his Great Society anti-poverty initiatives, and also criticize U.S. militarized intervention in Viet Nam. Mink’s efforts to balance these conflicting political agendas led to her support for Robert F. Kennedy in the 1968 elections and her own presidential campaign in 1972. This talk addresses an aspect of Asian American Studies that has been understudied, namely Asian American engagement with formal politics. Mink’s campaigns drew upon grassroots support, particularly from liberal and radical activists in Hawaii and elsewhere. However, her presence in the U.S. Congress also meant that she had access to national arenas of political influence and power. This presentation analyzes how Mink sought to navigate conflicting political agendas in the context of cold war racial liberalism.

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Leadership Women

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