Former Congresswoman Carrie Pittman Meek, our historical leader, activist, and mother to many she mentored throughout her life was the granddaughter of slaves, a laundress and sharecropper’s daughter who became one of the first Black Floridians elected to Congress since Reconstruction passed peacefully on Sunday, November 28, 2021. She was 95 years young.
Congresswoman Meek was a native Floridian born in Tallahassee on April 29, 1926. She was raised during the Jim Crow era by loving parents who would encourage her to grow up and break many racial, gender and educational barriers. Congresswoman Carrie P Meek was a super athletic star who excelled in track and field. Congresswoman Meek earned a B.S. Degree in Biology and Physical Education at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee in 1946. Despite the fact, Congresswoman Meek was not allowed to pursue her a master’s degree in the state of Florida after graduating from Florida A&M University. She attended the University of Michigan, where she earned a master’s degree in physical education and public health two years later. After earning her degrees, she accepted a position at Bethune Cookman College as an instructor and became the institution’s first female basketball coach. In 1958, she returned to Florida A&M as an instructor in health and physical education. She held that position until 1961. She continued her teaching career at Miami Dade Community College as the first Black professor, associate dean, and assistant to the Vice President from 1961 to 1979.
She was elected to the Florida House of Representatives from 1979 to 1983 then elected to serve in the Florida Senate for the next ten (10) years. Congresswoman Meek would further her political career by representing Florida’s 17th Congressional District as a Democratic Florida State House Representative for 5 terms. In Congress, she was a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and worked to secure $100 million in aid to rebuild Dade County as the area recovered from Hurricane Andrew.
She retired in 2002 and shifted her focus to the Carrie Meek Foundation, which she founded in November 2001, to provide the Miami-Dade community with much-needed resources, opportunities, and jobs. Meek spearheaded the Foundation’s daily operations until 2015 when she stepped down due to declining health.
Congresswoman Meek served her community in various elected positions for over 30 years. She was known for her outstanding and outspoken leadership in economic and immigration to include minority business and enterprise laws to promote literacy and reduction of the K-12 Drop Out Rates. In addition, she helped bring national attention to allegations that black voter’s right were tampered with in Florida during the 2000 election of the President of the United States.
Congresswoman Meek earned several awards and accolades during her years of service including Florida A&M University naming its building for Black History archives in her honor in 2007. She was awarded honorary law degrees from the University of Miami, Florida A&M University, Barry University, Florida Atlantic University and Rollins College. She was a member of several organizations including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
Congresswoman Meek is survived by her children Lucia Davis-Raiford, Sheila Davis Kinui and former Congressman Kendrick B. Meek, seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and multiple nieces and nephews.
She was never afraid to use her voice to speak out against inequality or to fight for the disenfranchised and the vulnerable. Her legacy will continue to shape our community and the nation for generations to come. The members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus stand on the shoulders of this phenomenal leader, and we are forever grateful for her service.