A pioneering and history-making lawmaker has passed away. Former U.S. Congresswoman Carrie Pittman Meek, the first Black person to represent Florida in Congress since the post-Civil War Reconstruction and an advocate for South Florida’s Black communities, Haitian immigrants and the working poor, died last Sunday at her home in Miami after a long illness, her family said. She was 95 years old.
Meek and former Congresswoman Corrine Brown, along with the late Alcee Hastings, all great outspoken servants came in during the 90s. Carrie Meek served as Florida state representative, state senator and later became a congresswoman in 1992 at the age of 66. She won the nomination for the Democratic Party and ran unopposed in the general election, going on to win in one of three majority-Black districts in Florida that were reapportioned at the time. In the House, Meek worked across the aisle on health care reform and sharply resisted welfare reform efforts during the mid-1990s.
Florida banned Black students from attending state graduate schools, so Meek enrolled at the University of Michigan. She was born in Tallahassee, Florida. She later taught at Florida A&M University. In 1961, as a single mother with two young children, Meek accepted a position at Miami-Dade Community College, where she spent the next three decades teaching and working in college administration.
In 1978 she ran for the Florida state house of representatives and defeated 12 other candidates to win the seat. Meek served in the state house from 1979 to 1983, chairing the education appropriations subcommittee. From 1983 to 1993, Meek served in the Florida senate. In 1992 Meek declared her candidacy for Congress. Meek became one of the first three African-American lawmakers to serve in Congress from Florida since the mid-1870s.
In 2002 Meek declined to seek certain re-election to a sixth term, citing her age. “I wish I could say I was tired of Congress,” she told a local newspaper. “I love it still. But at age 76, understandably, some of my abilities have diminished. I don’t have the same vigor that I had at age 65. Her son Kendrick Meek was a member of the House of Representatives and ran for U S. Senate in 2010.