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Listen: Carrie Meek on her 'redemptive' rise to influence in Washington

 Then-Rep. Meek wore this prophetic t-shirt in the House chamber reading "A woman's place is in the House and the Senate". She was later elected to the Senate and then to the U.S. Congress. Meek was the first African American woman to be elected to the Florida senate.
Donn Dughi
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Then-Rep. Meek wore this prophetic t-shirt in the House chamber reading "A woman's place is in the House and the Senate". She was later elected to the Senate and then to the U.S. Congress. Meek was the first African American woman to be elected to the Florida senate.

For Carrie Meek, who died at age 95, her political ascent occurred at a time when most are considering retirement.

FAMU alumna and former Florida Congresswoman Carrie Meek has died. She was 95.

Her rise in politics happened at a time in her life when most people would be ready for retirement — but that was just the start of her run.

When Meek arrived on Capitol Hill in 1992, she remarked the moment was spiritual.

When asked by a CSPAN reporter how a daughter of sharecroppers came to be in Washington, Meek said, "I come from a place that was down in the bottom from the Capitol [in] Tallahassee, and in the 30s I was not allowed in that capital. And here I am standing on the steps, in the shadow, of the ultimate place … and that’s in Washington.”

Meek was born in Tallahassee in 1926 at a time when Jim Crow laws were fully in effect. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University — and taught at Miami Dade Community College, Bethune Cookman College and FAMU before she was elected to the Florida Legislature — first as a representative, then later, a state senator.

She won her congressional Democratic primary by more than 80% of the vote. No Republican opposed her in the general election.

That made Meek among the first Black Floridians to be elected to Congress since Josiah Wells during Reconstruction. She would eventually be joined by Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings.

“To me, it's very redemptive," Meek told CPSAN in a 1992 interview.

"To look at the capital and it shows that the times have changed, the attitudes of the country have changed and Carrie Meek has changed. And I am very happy to be here.”

Meek’s name adorns the Carrie Meek and James S. Eaton Black Archives at FAMU. Her son, Kendrick Meek, succeeded her in congress.

Meek’s death came days after former FAMU President Emeritus Walter Smith passed away on Thanksgiving. He was 86.

Copyright 2021 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

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