Carrie Meek, Groundbreaking Congresswoman, Dead At 95

Carrie Meek

Photo: Getty Images

Carrie Meek, a pioneer in Florida politics, has passed away at 95 years old. The Associated Press has reported that Meek was pronounced dead after battling an illness, but her family has not specified what disease she suffered from.

"Today, with great sadness over her passing, the Congress and Country mourn the loss and celebrate the life of former Congresswoman Carrie Meek: a remarkable, trailblazing leader who helped expand opportunity in America. She not only made history but made progress for our nation," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tweeted.

"Rest In Power to Congresswoman Carrie Meek. She was a pioneer, community leader, and advocate for her constituents. My heart goes out to Kendrick Meek and the whole Meek family," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried added.

As the grandchild of enslaved Black Americans and the daughter of a sharecropper, Meek overcame great odds in her lifetime. She studied biology and physical education at Florida A&M University. After graduating from Florida A&M University, she became the first coach of Bethune Cookman College's women's basketball team. More than a decade after graduation, Meek returned to Florida A&M University to teach health and physical education. However, her return to the historically Black university was short-lived. After three years, she left her alma mater to become the first Black professor at Miami-Dade College.

Meek did not remain in education forever. At 52 years old, she transitioned into the world of politics. In 1978, Meek was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. Succeeding fellow lawmaking pioneer Gwen Cherry, Meek became one of the first African Americans and the first Black woman to serve in the Florida Senate since the 19th century. After working at the state level for more than a decade, Meek took her talents to Capitol Hill. In 1992, she began representing Florida's 17th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Nearly a decade into her time on Capitol Hill, Meek left Congress to launch her own foundation. The Carrie Meek Foundation seeks to provide resources and opportunities to as many people across the Miami-Dade Community as possible.

Meek is survived by three children, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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