Carrie Meek
Carrie Meek

Carrie Meek, the grandchild of a slave, the daughter of a sharecropper and one of the first Black Floridians elected to Congress following Reconstruction, died Sunday at the age of 95.

Meek died at home in Miami after a lengthy illness.

As the former senior editor for The Miami Times, this writer had the profound honor of spending time with the former congresswoman on several occasions. She always took time to share words of wisdom and encouragement to members of the Black community who wanted to make a difference for their people, the city and the nation.

Amazingly, Meek entered politics at 66 when most people only had retirement on their minds. She won the 1992 Democratic congressional primary in her district in Miami-Dade County and moved on to Congress as she had no Republican opponent in the general election.

In January 1993, along with Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown, Meek and her colleagues became the first Black Floridians to serve in Congress since 1876. She served as a staunch advocate for affirmative action, economic opportunities for the poor and the reduction of immigration restrictions on Haiti, the birthplace of many of her constituents. She would also become famous for her command of the English language, her ability to communicate with everyday people and her delight at bashing members of the GOP.

“The last Republican that did something for me was Abraham Lincoln,” she told the state delegation to the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Meek chose not to seek a sixth term in 2002. But her son, Kendrick, continued in her stead, winning her district and serving for four terms before his failed effort to win the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Before entering politics, Meek worked as a teacher and administrator at Miami-Dade College.

She was elected to the Florida House in 1978, succeeding pioneer Black legislator Gwen Cherry, who had been killed in an auto accident. She became one of the first African Americans and the first Black woman to serve in the Florida Senate since the 1800s.

Carrie Pittman, born to Willie and Carrie Pittman in Tallahassee on April 29, 1926, counted as the youngest of 12 children. Her father worked in Florida’s fields as a sharecropper while her mother worked as a laundress for white families.

She graduated from Florida A&M University in 1946 with a degree in biology and physical education. The university named its building for Black history archives in her honor in 2007. She also became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Meek’s survivors include three children, Lucia Davis-Raiford, Sheila Davis Kinui and Kendrick B. Meek, seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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