From VPDEI M. Dixon: Celebrating Women’s History Month: Jovita Idár; Patsy Mink; Dr. Susan La Fleche Picotti; Captain Joellen Drag Oslund

black adn white photo of Jovita Idár

Jovita Idár (1885-1946) was a Mexican-American journalist, activist, and suffragist.  From a young age she was exposed to the world of journalism and political activism. Her father was a newspaper editor and civil rights advocate. In 1903 Idár became a teacher and resigned due to the segregation and poor conditions Mexican American students were subject to. She began her journalism career at La Crónica, her father’s newspaper. In 1911 Idár and her family organized the First Mexican Congress. They advocated for Mexican-Americans and their lack of economic resources, and lack of education. Idár’s activism was just beginning. That same year she founded and became president of La Liga Feminil Mexicaista (the League of Mexican Women). This feminist organization was key in providing Mexican-American students with an education. During the Mexican Revolution, Idár served as a nurse taking care of injured Mexican soldiers.

She later returned to Texas and resumed her journalism work at the El Progreso newspaper. Where she wrote an article protesting President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to send U.S troops to the border. The U.S Army and Texas Rangers attempted to forcibly shut down the newspaper. Idár stood at the door and prevented them from entering. However, they later returned and shut down the newspaper. In her later years, Idár volunteered as a Spanish interpreter at a local hospital, and started a free kindergarten for children. We celebrate Jovita Idár’s advocacy for Mexican-Americans.

color photo of Patsy Mink

Patsy Mink (1927-2002) began her higher education journey at the University of Nebraska but later transferred to the University of Hawaii, after facing racial discrimination. Dorms were segregated and students of color were not permitted to reside in the same dorms as white students. Mink graduated in 1948 with the intention of becoming a doctor. She was denied admission to all medical schools she had applied to. She was later accepted to the University of Chicago Law School where she graduated in 1951. Mink returned to Hawaii, where she was unable to find a job because of her interracial marriage. Instead, she opened her own law practice. Making her the first Japanese-American woman to practice law in the state of Hawaii. Mink’s first attempt to become a congresswoman was unsuccessful. Not one to give up, in 1962 she won the Hawaii State Senate seat. Two years later in 1964 she was elected to the U.S House of Representatives. Becoming the first woman of color and first Asian-American woman in congress. During her political career she advocated for immigrants, minorities, and women. Mink was instrumental to the passage of Title IX. She was one of the key authors and sponsors behind it. We celebrate Patsy Mink and her advocacy work for women.

black and white photo of Dr. Susan La Fleche Picotti 

Dr. Susan La Fleche Picotti (1865-1915) was born on the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska. As a young girl she witnessed a sick American Indian woman die after being denied medical care by a white doctor. That horrific incident impacted La Fleche, and she pursued a medical degree. She attended the Hampton Institute, a prestigious higher education establishment for non-white students. Her mentor later encouraged her to apply to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP). La Fleche became the first person to receive federal aid for a professional degree. She enrolled in the WMCP with federal funds from the U.S. Indian Affairs Office and the Connecticut Indian Association of the Women’s National Indian Association. In 1889, she graduated top of her class and became the first American Indian woman in the U.S to receive a medical degree. Upon completing her internship, she returned home to provide medical care at the Omaha Reservation. Where she was responsible for the care of approximately twelve hundred people. In 1913 she fulfilled her dream of opening a hospital in Walthill, Nebraska. We celebrate Dr. Susan La Fleche Picotti for her help providing proper medical care to the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska. 

black and white photo of Captain Joellen Drag Oslun

Captain Joellen Drag Oslund is known for her advocacy against federal laws excluding women from serving on U.S Navy ships. Only fifty years ago, the Navy flight training program opened its doors to women for the first time. Joellen Drag Oslund, along with six other women became known as “The First Six” female aviators. In 1974 Oslund earned her “Wings of Gold”. When she became the fourth female aviator and first female helicopter pilot. During this time federal laws excluded women from serving on U.S Navy ships. Following military procedure Captain Joellen Drag Oslund wrote a letter to the Chief of Naval Operations. That letter never made it up the chain of commands. In response Oslund joined forces with the ACLU and legally challenged those federal laws in Owens vs. Brown (1978).  Successful in her endeavors, Oslund become the first Navy woman pilot to serve aboard a U.S. Navy ship. During her five years of active service Captain Joellen Drag Oslund became the first Navy woman Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) helicopter aircraft commander. We celebrate Captain Joellen Drag Oslund for her advocacy of women in the military.

Melanie Dixon

Pronouns: she/her/hers Why pronouns?

Vice President of Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Building 1000 (Administration) Room 1019A

Shoreline Community College  |  206-533-6682

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