April 29, 1926
The granddaughter of a slave and the daughter of a sharecropper and a domestic, educator and U.S. Congresswoman Carrie Pittman Meek was born in Tallahassee, Florida. She graduated from Florida A & M University with a B.S. degree in 1946. In 1948 she received her M.S. degree from the University of Michigan and later studied at Florida Atlantic University.
Meek began a teaching career at Bethune-Cookman College from 1949 to 1958. She moved to Florida A & M University for the next three years (1958–1961). She was women's basketball coach at both institutions. After teaching at Miami-Dade Community College from 1961 to 1968, she moved into administrative posts as associate to the president (1968–1979) and as special assistant to the vice president beginning in 1982.
In the 1960s and 1970s Meek became acquainted with the inequity in federally funded programs for blacks in Dade County and concluded that only the government could correct the problem. In 1979, she ran in a special election to fill the former seat of Dade County's state representative Gwen Cherry, killed in an automobile accident. Meek won, and was reelected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1980. Meek was so popular in her senatorial district that she decided to run for Congress in 1992, representing the 17th District, and won by a staggering margin. A sixty-seven-year-old grandmother, she became the first African-American woman since Reconstruction to be elected to Congress from Florida. Her record in Congress was impressive; she served on the House Appropriations Committee, drafted a bill to ease restrictions on Haitian refugees, and advised President Bill Clinton as he worked to reduce the budget deficit without cutting social welfare programs.
Meek retired in 2002 after a ten-year career in Congress. Her son, Kendrick, was elected to take her place.
See also Politics in the United States
Bigelow, Barbara Carlisle, ed. Contemporary Black Biography. Detroit, Mich.: Gale, 1992.
Davies, Frank. "Charm Made Carrie Meek Effective Even When Outnumbered." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (December 11, 2002).
Smith, Jessie Carney, ed. Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Mich.: Gale, 1996.
raymond winbush (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005