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Trailblazing Carrie Meek, former congresswoman, dies at 95


Former Florida Congresswoman Carrie Meek has passed away at the age of 95. This revered daughter of a sharecropper and granddaughter of a slave was a trailblazer, breaking down barriers throughout her winding political career. After a lengthy illness, Meek passed away last week.

The youngest of 12 children, Meek was born in Tallahassee, Florida in 1926, to parents Willie and Carrie Pittman.  Her father worked in nearby fields as a sharecropper and her mother took in laundry from white families.

Meek graduated from Florida A&M University, an historical black college,  in 1946 with a degree in biology and physical education. The university later named its building for Black history archives in her honor in 2007. She was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Before entering politics, Meek was in higher education, serving as an instructor at Bethune Cookman College and later as Miami-Dade Community College’s first Black professor, associate dean and assistant to the vice president.  

Meek began her political career in the Florida General Assembly. Meek was 66 when she won the 1992 Democratic congressional primary in her Miami-Dade County district. Her election paved the way for Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown, who joined her in January 1993 as the first Black Floridians to serve in Congress since 1876. Districts had been redrawn by the federal courts in accordance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Meek reflected that while her grandmother, a slave on a Georgia farm, could never have dreamed of such an accomplishment, her parents told her that anything was possible.

In Congress, Meek was a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Known for her liberal opinions and folksy yet powerful oratory, Meek championed affirmative action, economic opportunities for the poor and efforts to bolster democracy in and ease immigration restrictions on Haiti, the birthplace of many of her constituents. After Hurricane Andrew, Meek worked to secure $100 million in aid to rebuild Dade County to help the area recover. 

Meek retired in 2002 and shifted her focus to the Carrie Meek Foundation, which she founded in November 2001, to provide the Miami-Dade community with much-needed resources, opportunities, and jobs. Meek spearheaded the Foundation’s daily operations until 2015 when she stepped down due to declining health. Her son, Kendrick, succeeded her in Congress before he retired to run for the U.S. Senate. 

Meek is survived by her three children, Lucia Davis-Raiford, Sheila Davis Kinui, and retired Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, seven grandchildren, five great grandchildren, multiple nieces and nephews, and other family members. 


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