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Fifty years ago, on June 23, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX, the 37-word excerpt from the Education Amendments of 1972 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex “in any program or educational activity benefiting from federal financial assistance”.

I became curious about the origins of Title IX while doing background research for my Op-Doc “The Queen of Basketball,” about Lucy Harris, one of the original recipients of Title IX. My research led me to Rep. Patsy Mink of Hawaii, who was a pivotal figure in writing and advocating for the law.

As the first woman of color elected to Congress, Ms. Mink — and her path to office — was influenced by the discrimination she faced in her personal and professional life. Many doors were closed to her as a Japanese-American woman, and she became an activist and then a politician to change the status quo.

As I learned more about the early history of Title IX in the 1970s, I discovered that lobbyists and lawmakers were mounting a formidable campaign to water down and erode the law. That effort will culminate in a dramatic moment on the House floor, where Ms Mink was ousted in a crucial vote on the law’s future.

In the short documentary above, Wendy Mink recounts her mother’s revolutionary rise to power and the startling collision between the personal and the political that momentarily derailed the cause of gender equality in America. After Mrs. Mink’s death in 2002, Title IX was officially renamed Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.

Ben Proudfoot is a filmmaker and founder and CEO of Breakwater Studios. He directed the Oscar-winning Op-Doc “The Queen of Basketball.”

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