Carrie Meek, one of the first Black Floridians elected to Congress since Reconstruction, died Sunday at her home in Miami. She was 95. Her death was confirmed by a family spokesperson, who did not specify the cause beyond noting she long suffered from an illness.
The daughter of a sharecropper and the granddaughter of a slave, Meek was 66 when she entered congressional politics. She won the 1992 Democratic congressional primary in her Miami district, and ran unopposed in the general election. A firebrand advocate for her northern Miami-Dade district, Meek lobbied on behalf of the area’s Black, immigrant, and poor populations. “My first priority in Congress is to develop job-producing programs,” she told The Washington Post weeks after her election.
Meek helped guarantee legal rights for Haitian immigrants, passed a measure providing Social Security benefits for nannies and day laborers, and secured $100 million in aid to rebuild her county in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. A regular fixture on the House floor, Meek fought for her legislative priorities fiercely: she once threatened to camp out on the doorstep of a colleague opposed to increasing funding for a hospital. Meek never lost a re-election, and retired in 2002.