Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority

A film by Kimberlee Bassford

US | 2008 | 56 minutes | Color/BW | DVD | Order No. 09975

In 1965, Patsy Takemoto Mink became the first woman of color in the United States Congress. Seven years later, she ran for the US presidency and was the driving force behind Title IX, the landmark legislation that transformed women’s opportunities in higher education and athletics.


In 1965, Patsy Takemoto Mink became the first woman of color in the United States Congress. Seven years later, she ran for the US presidency and was the driving force behind Title IX, the landmark legislation that transformed women’s opportunities in higher education and athletics. Mink was an Asian American woman who fought racism and sexism while redefining US politics. Her tumultuous, often lonely political journey reveals what can be at stake for female politicians that defy expectations, push limits and adhere to their principles. Mink encountered sexism within her own party, whose leaders disliked her independent style and openly maneuvered against her. And her liberal views, particularly her vocal opposition to the Vietnam War, engendered intense criticism. A compelling portrait of an iconoclastic figure that remains seldom spotlighted in history books, this film illuminates how Mink’s daring to remain “ahead of the majority” in her beliefs enabled groundbreaking changes for the rights of the disenfranchised. A woman of the people as well as a pioneer, a patriot and an outcast, Patsy Mink’s intriguing story embodies the history, ideals and spirit of America.


“An outstanding film that documents an amazing life. Mink was a trailblazer known today for her incredible commitment to the ideals of democracy. This film is ideal for courses on Women & Politics and Racial & Ethnic Politics.”

Stefanie Chambers Assoc. Professor of Political Science, Trinity College

“Moving and inspirational...It does a terrific job of bringing to light a time in US social and political history which feels both distant and all-too-familiar.”

Martha Ackelsberg Dept. of Government & Program for the Study of Women and Gender, Smith College

“This film is not just about Patsy—the pioneer, the activist, the visionary—but a story for all who believe in equality and justice.”

Shirley (Kodani) Cavanaugh, APR Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (Retired)

“A truly courageous woman…. who didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and made a difference for all of us.”

Erica Johnson American Association of University Women


  • Honolulu International Film Festival, Best Documentary, Gold Kahuna Award, Best Hawaiian Film
  • Gate City Women’s Film Festival, Blue Magnolia Award: Best in Festival
  • San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, Comcast Audience Award: Best Documentary Feature
  • Zora Neale Hurston Award: Best Documentary Film
  • Hawaii International Film Festival, Audience Award: Favorite Documentary
  • International Women’s Day Film Festival, Finalist: Cross Culture Ambassador Award
  • Bennett Spirit Award: Most Positive Portrayal of a Woman
  • San Joaquin International Film Festival, Spirit of Humanity Award
  • DisOrient Asian American Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize: Best Feature
  • CINE Golden Eagle Award, Documentary Short, Independent Division
  • Festival International de Films de Femmes, Creteil, France
  • Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
  • San Diego Asian Film Festival
  • Pacific Rim Film Festival
  • Austin Asian Film Festival
  • International Women's Day Film Festival
  • Reel Women International Film Festival
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW) National Convention American Association of University Women (AAUW) National Convention


Kimberlee Bassford

Kimberlee Bassford is an independent documentary filmmaker born and raised in Hawai‘i with a passion for social issue, cultural and women’s stories. She most recently completed the feature documentary WINNING GIRL, which follows the four-year journey of a Hawaiian female teenage judo and wrestling female phenomenon from Hawai‘i with world championship aspirations. The film had its world premiere at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival in November 2014 and has funding from Pacific Islanders in Communications and fiscal sponsorship through Women Make Movies.

Prior to that, she produced, directed, wrote and co-edited PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY (2008), a one-hour documentary about the late U.S. Representative Patsy Mink, the first woman of color in Congress and co-author of the landmark Title IX gender equity legislation. The film premiered at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Favorite Documentary. It also won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (now CAAMFest); Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature at the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival; Spirit of Humanity Award at the San Joaquin International Film Festival; among other honors. It aired nationally on PBS in 2009 and has educational distribution through Women Make Movies.

She produced and directed the short documentary LOTUS ROOT: A GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER'S JOURNEY (2010) about her great grandfather Chun Quon Yee Hop, a successful businessman and philanthropist and the founding member of her family in Hawai‘i. She was a producer on UNNATURAL CAUSES: IS INEQUALITY MAKING US SICK? (2008), a four-hour national PBS documentary series and public engagement campaign about America’s socioeconomic and racial disparities in health. The series won an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism and a Henry Hampton Award for excellence in film and digital media. She was also a producer on the three-hour national PBS documentary series THE MEANING OF FOOD (2005), which explores the social significance of food in the United States.

She had her directorial debut with CHEERLEADER (2003), a short documentary that follows a squad of young, bright-eyed California cheerleaders on its quest for the national cheerleading championships. The film won the Student Academy Award in Documentary and CINE Golden Eagle and aired nationally on HBO Family. It also screened in film festivals in the U.S., Canada, Europe and New Zealand, including the Cannes Film Festival as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmaker Showcase. The film has educational distribution through Documentary Educational Resources.

Kimberlee is a graduate of Punahou School and holds a BA in psychology from Harvard University and a Masters of Journalism from the University of California Berkeley. She owns Making Waves Films LLC, a documentary production company in Honolulu. (4/15)


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