Note: As we mark the 40th anniversary of Title IX, this is an ESPN.com column I wrote in December 2002, honoring the late Patsy Mink. She had recently passed away then. One of the “mothers” of Title IX, Mink is among the people we should always remember to thank when we talk about what Title IX has done for us.
Here’s Patsy Takemoto, a teen-aged girl. She’s extremely bright and ambitious. She’s small of physical stature. She plays some high school basketball … well, the half-court game that they let the girls play.
She lives in a beautiful place, Hawaii, where her grandparents had come to from Japan in the 1800s to be sugar-plantation workers. But it’s not been a pretty world these last few, long years. She’s been an eyewitness to the carnage at Pearl Harbor, which happened the day after she turned 14. War has raged over the globe, and people like her _ Japanese-Americans _ have been treated like the enemy by both sides in the conflict.
Her patriotism and her optimism, though, are undaunted. Soon, it will be time for the world, shattered in so many places, to begin rebuilding. She’s tiny but strong. It’s 1944. She’s graduated from high school and is eager to begin the next stage of education and step into adult life as a contributor, a healer.
She meets segregation, belittlement, contempt. For her race, for her gender. It’s relentless, mostly unchallenged, thoroughly institutionalized. Yet she still thinks anything is possible.