Former U.S. Congresswoman Carrie Meek, who was the first Black person to represent the state of Florida in Congress since Reconstruction, died on November 28. She was 95.
Meek served in Congress from 1993 to 2003. She, as the granddaughter of slaves, became a Congresswoman at the age of 66 after serving in the Florida House and Senate.
Meek’s political career began when Florida state representative Gwen Cherry, Florida’s first ever Black woman legislator, was killed in a car crash in 1979. Meek won a special election to succeed Cherry.
In 1992, court-ordered congressional redistricting mandated that there would be three minority majority districts in Florida to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and the late Congressman Alcee Hastings, who passed away in April, were also elected in 1992.
Meek ran for and won a seat in Congress and represented parts of Dade County. She focused on middle class issues and the poor. She focused on assisting her district from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew and won over $100 million in federal assistance after the disaster. Meek also advocated for Haitian immigrants.
Meek was born in 1926, in Tallahassee. She graduated from Florida A&M College for Negroes, now known as Florida A&M University but in 1946 Blacks could not attend graduate school in Florida. Meek earned a masters degree from in 1948 from the University of Michigan. She was then hired as a teacher at Bethune-Cookman University.
Meek’s son, Kendrick Meek, also served in Congress from 2003 to 2011, in the same congressional seat as his mother. When Carrie Meek retired in 2002 she wanted to focus more of her time to the Miami foundation named after her.
Meek’s daughter, Lucia Davis-Raiforde, said her mother focused on making sure, “her people, no matter where they were in the African Diaspora, benefited from the benefits offered by being in the United States.”
(Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at <LBurke007@gmail.com> and on twitter at @LVBurke.)