Former Florida Congresswoman Carrie Meek Dead at 95

( Former Florida Democrat Congresswoman Carrie Meek passed away on Sunday at the age of 95 after a long illness. She was the grandchild of a slave and the daughter of a sharecropper who became one of the first black Floridians elected to Congress since Reconstruction.

Meek was first elected to the House in 1992 when she was 66-year-old. During her tenure, she championed affirmative action, economic opportunities for the poor, and easing immigration restrictions on Haitian immigrants.

After five terms in office, Meek retired from Congress in 2002. Her son Kendrick ran to replace her and easily won the heavily Democratic Miami-Dade district. He held the seat for four terms until his unsuccessful run for the US Senate in 2010.

After retiring from Congress, Meek returned to Miami where she created a foundation focused on education and housing.

As is common among Democrats, Meek’s business dealings became the focus of a criminal investigation after she had lobbied for a biotech park in Miami’s Liberty City that never materialized. The park developer was arrested in October 2009 on charges that he stole nearly a million dollars from the project.

According to Congressional records, Meek was paid for the project at the same time her son Kendrick was seeking millions in federal dollars for it. Meek claimed she was a paid consultant, and both she and her son denied their efforts were linked.

Carrie Pittman Meek was born in Tallahassee, Florida on April 29, 1926. Her father Willie Pittman worked as a sharecropper and her mother took in laundry. She graduated with a degree in biology and physical education from Florida A&M University in 1946.

Meek, a former teacher and administrator at Miami-Dade College, was elected to the Florida House in 1978. She went on to become the first black woman to serve in the Florida Senate since the 1800s.

She is survived by her children Lucia Davis-Raiford, Sheila Davis Kinui, and Kendrick B. Meek. She has seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.