Carrie Meek, one of the first Black Floridians elected to Congress since reconstruction, passed away at the age of 95 Sunday.
Meek passed away in her Miami home after a long battle with an undisclosed illness according to NBC News. Before entering politics, Meek spent most of her adulthood as a teacher and an administrator at several colleges.
The 1946 Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduate began her congressional career at the age of 63, when most are considering retirement. At the age of 66, Meek easily won the 1992 Democratic congressional primary in her Miami-Dade County district and ran unopposed in the general election.
Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown joined Meek in 1993 as the only Black, female Floridians to serve in Congress since 1876. On her first day in Congress, Meek said she thought of her grandmother, who was a slave in Georgia and her parents who told her anything was possible.
`“They always said the day would come when we would be recognized for our character,” Meek told the Associated Press in an interview the day she was elected according to NBC.
While in Congress, Meek championed affirmative action, economic opportunities for low-income communities and fought to ease immigration restrictions in Haiti. She was also instrumental as a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and worked to secure $100 million in aid to rebuild Dade County after Hurricane Andrew.
Meek was elected to the Florida House in 1978, succeeding Black legislator Gwen Cherry, who was killed in an auto accident. She was the youngest of 12 children born in Tallahassee in 1926 and graduated from FAMU with a degree in biology and physical education. The university’s building for Black history archives was named in Meek’s honor in 2007.
After college Meek took a position at Bethune Cookman College as an instructor and became the school’s first female basketball coach. She also taught at FAMU and Miami Dade Community College, where she served as the first Black professor, associate dean, and assistant to the vice president between 1961 and 1979 before entering politics.