FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (AP) – Carrie Meek, the grandchild of a slave and a sharecropper’s daughter who became one of the first Black Floridians elected to Congress since Reconstruction, died on Sunday. She was 95.
Meek died at her home in Miami after a long illness, her family said in a statement. The family did not specify a cause of death. Meek started her congressional career at an age when many people begin retirement. She was 66 when she easily won the 1992 Democratic congressional primary in her Miami-Dade County district. No Republican opposed her in the general election.
Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown joined Meek in January 1993 as the first Black Floridians to serve in Congress since 1876 as the state’s districts had been redrawn by the federal courts in accordance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
On her first day in Congress, Meek reflected that while her grandmother, a slave on a Georgia farm, could never have dreamed of such an accomplishment, her parents told her that anything was possible.
“They always said the day would come when we would be recognised for our character,” she told The Associated Press in an interview that day.
In Congress, Meek championed affirmative action, economic opportunities for the poor and efforts to bolster democracy in and ease immigration restrictions on Haiti, the birthplace of many of her constituents.
She also was known for her liberal opinions, folksy yet powerful oratory and colourful