Tallahassee’s Carrie P. Meek is a political trailblazer of Florida politics. Meek is the first Black woman to elected to the state’s Senate, and the first Black elected official to represent Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives since Reconstruction.

Meek, born April 29, 1926, is the daughter of former slaves and sharecroppers in the Deep South.

Raised in Tallahassee during the turbulent Jim Crow era, Meek graduated from Florida A&M University. Because of segregation, Meek was unable to attend a graduate school in the state and instead went to the University of Michigan for her master’s. Meek worked as an educator at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, then returned to FAMU.

After moving to Miami, Meek went to work as an assistant to the vice president of Miami-Dade Community College.

While Meek was there, the college was desegregated, which was due in part to Meek’s work in fighting for inclusion for all students. While working in education, Meek was also active in community politics. Meek was elected to the state’s House of Representative’s in 1978, serving five years.

While serving, Meek worked on a bill as a state representative that outlawed stalking. In 1983, she was elected to the state Senate and served for 10 years. Meek was then elected to represent the 17th District of Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Meek’s time in office was mired with difficulty, especially after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. However, Meek was able to get $100 million in federal aid to the region and worked hard for the citizens she represented in the district. Meek stepped down in 2003, and her son Kendrick Meek held her seat until 2011.

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