Carrie Meek, a pioneering black former congresswoman, dies at the age of 95

Meek’s death came after a “long illness,” family spokesman Adam Sharon said in a statement describing the “pioneering” life and legacy of the late Florida Democrat.

Her children Lucia Davis-Raiford, Sheila Davis Kinui and retired representative Kendrick B. Meek from Florida made a statement about her legacy to CNN.

It read: “Carrie Meek was our family matriarch who fulfilled this role for the entire South Florida community. She was a bridge builder and healer, a unifier with a legacy defined by selfless public service. Forever the teacher, the congresswoman taught us all the lessons. on justice and morality. Her approach was rooted in kindness and humility. Carrie Meek made our community stronger and more just – a result that is an eternal tribute to our beloved mother. She was guided by her faith, always inspired by the outflow of love and We humbly pray for your prayers at this time. “

Meek was born in Tallahassee, Florida in 1926, according to her congressional biography. After serving as Miami-Dade Community College’s first black professor, associate dean and assistant to the vice president, Meek knocked out 12 other candidates when she ran for Florida State House in 1978.

Just five years later, she became the first black woman to be elected to the state Senate.

Meek would continue to leverage his career in the state government for a successful U.S. House campaign in 1992. Along with former reps. Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings joined Meek in Congress as one of the first black members elected since the Reconstruction era.

For the next decade, she used her legislative perch to push a range of democratic priorities from immigration reform to economic development. ” We see show boats, and we see tugs, ” said the late Civil Rights legend Rep. John Lewis in 1999 on the various legislative styles in Congress. ” She’s a tugboat. I will never be on the side of problems against her. ”

Meek retired in 2002 and was succeeded by his son Kendrick, who ran for his seat and held it for four terms.

Following his congressional career, Meek shifted his focus to the Carrie Meek Foundation, which worked to provide the Miami-Dade community with jobs and opportunities, according to the statement from Sharon. She ran the foundation’s operation until 2015, when “declining health” forced her to resign.

The news of her death attracted immediate support Sunday night.

Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, who succeeded Rep. Kendrick Meek, tweeted about Carrie Meek’s character and example.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my predecessor Congressman Carrie Meek. She was a true advocate for black communities in Florida and around the world. She guided me throughout my political career and was a role model for politicians … though, how to navigate the jungle of racism, discrimination and equality in Florida, “Wilson wrote.

She continued, “Carrie Meek was a sweet, sweet spirit that permeated our society for many years. Her presence in a space spoke volumes in generations yet to be born. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

“My deepest condolences to the Meek family. I had the honor of overlapping in the service of Congress with Carrie Meek,” the Democratic rep. Gregory Meeks of New York tweeted. “At its core, she was an educator, and I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned from her.”

Florida Democrat Rep. Darren Soto also praised Meek as a pioneer “with a big heart and a lot of courage.”

“She was a champion of civil rights, health care, education, jobs and housing. She protected our state through Hurricane Andrew and the closure of bases. We will strive to follow her amazing legacy!” he tweeted.

GOP Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida called Meek “an icon and invaluable friend.”

“Carrie was a living legend and an institution. Her passion and conviction made everyone around her love, admire and respect her,” he tweeted. “There is no doubt that Congressman Meek’s legacy will leave a lasting imprint on future generations.”

Meek leaves behind his three children, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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