A viewing was held Sunday for 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.
Family, friends and local leaders joined the community she served at Booker T. Washington Senior High School for the viewing.
Meek died at her home in Miami after a long illness, family spokesperson Adam Sharon said in a statement.
She started her congressional career at an age when many people begin retirement.
At the age of 66, she easily won the 1992 Democratic congressional primary in her Miami-Dade County district. No Republican opposed her in the general election.
Deedra Davis says Meek meant the world to her.
“She helped me get housing, career, gave me my first job," Davis said. "Instrumental to what I am today.”
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.
Meek was also a member of the powerful Appropriations committee and worked to secure $100 million in aid to rebuild Miami-Dade County as the area recovered from Hurricane Andrew.
She retired in 2002 and shifted her focus to the Carrie Meek Foundation.
That same year, her son Kendrick succeeded in winning her heavily democratic district, a seat he held for four terms.
“She loved this country, she loved this community, and we’re just blessed,” Kendrick Meek said. “This morning, when I went to go see her for the first time since her death, at the funeral home, the joy just overtook me coming out that she’s resting now, that she’s home now.”
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.
The wake will be held Monday, December 6 at Miami-Dade College- North Campus and the funeral services will be held Tuesday, December 7 at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church - Miami Gardens Campus at 11 a.m.