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April 9, 2001
Secretary of Transportation to Deliver Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Keynote Address at the Library of Congress
Norman Y. Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, will deliver the 2001 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Keynote address at the Library of Congress at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, in the Coolidge Auditorium in the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E. The lecture is free and open to the public.
A native of California, Secretary Mineta and his family were among the 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry forced from their homes and into internment camps during World War II. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Secretary Mineta joined the Army in 1953 and served as an intelligence officer in Japan and Korea. He joined his father in the Mineta Insurance Agency before entering politics in San Jose, serving as a member of its City Council from 1967 to 1971 and mayor from 1971 to 1974, becoming the first Asian Pacific American mayor of a major U.S. city.
Secretary Mineta served in Congress as a democratic representative from the state of California from 1975 to 1995. As a member of Congress, he was known for his dedication to the people of his district, consensus building among his colleagues, and forging public-private partnerships. He served as chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee between 1992 and 1994, chaired the committee's aviation subcommittee between 1981 and 1988, and chaired its surface transportation subcommittee from 1989 to 1991. During his tenure, he also co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and served as its first chairman.
After leaving Congress, Secretary Mineta chaired the National Civil Aviation Review Commission, which, in 1997, issued recommendations on reducing both traffic congestion and the aviation accident rate. Many of the commission's recommendations were adopted by the Clinton administration, including reform of the Federal Aviation Administration to enable it to perform more like a business. He was appointed U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, becoming the first Asian Pacific American to serve in the Cabinet.
On Jan. 25, 2001, Norman Mineta was appointed fourteenth U.S. Secretary of Transportation by President Bush. In this capacity, he oversees an agency with 100,000 employees and a $58.7 billion budget. In nominating him, President Bush cited Secretary Mineta's "reputation in the halls of Congress as someone who understands that a sound infrastructure in America will lead to economic opportunity for all Americans."
While in Congress, Secretary Mineta was the driving force behind passage of H.R. 442, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized for and redressed the injustices endured by Japanese Americans during the war. In 1995, George Washington University awarded him the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Medal for his contributions to the field of civil rights.
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