Carrie Meek, former Florida congresswoman, dies at 95

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Former Rep. Carrie Meek, one of the first Black Floridians elected to Congress, died on Sunday at the age of 95.

Meek's family spokesperson Adam Sharon told The Associated Press on Sunday that Meek died in her Miami, Fla. home after battling a long illness.

Meek, a grandchild of a slave and a sharecropper's daughter, graduated with a biology and physical education degree from Florida A&M University in 1946, beginning her career as a college professor for various institutions.

The Delta-Sigma Theta sorority member began her career in politics in 1978, winning the race to succeed pioneering Black lawmaker Gwen Cherry in Florida's House.

Meek became one of the first African Americans and first Black woman to serve in Florida's Senate since the 1800s, the AP reported.

At 66 years old, Meek began her congressional career, easily winning her Democratic congressional primary in her Miami-Dade County district in 1992, joining Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown as the first Black Floridians in congress since 1876, The AP reported.

During her time in congress, Meek fought for affirmative action, economic opportunities for the poor, and pushed to ease immigration restrictions on Haiti, where many of her constituents were born.

After retiring from Congress in 2002, Meek shifted her focus to her Carrie Meek Foundation, which aimed to provide resources, jobs, and opportunities for the Miami-Dade community.

Meek is survived by her three children, seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and multiple nieces and nephews, the AP noted.