Shevrin Jones asks Gov. DeSantis to fly flags at half-staff for Carrie Meek

Flag of the United States of America at half staff on a clear wi
Meek, who died Sunday at 95, was indeed a trailblazer.

Gov. Ron DeSantis should fly flags throughout Florida at half-staff to honor late former Congresswoman Carrie Meek on Tuesday, the day of her funeral and homecoming celebration, Sen. Shevrin Jones says.

Miami-Dade County is already doing it.

Jones asked DeSantis to order flags at public buildings across the state to be lowered as a show of respect for Meek, the first Black lawmaker elected from Florida to the U.S. House of Representatives since post-Civil War Reconstruction.

“She broke many racial, gender, and educational barriers,” Jones wrote in a letter Thursday. “To further honor her memory and pay our respects to her countless years of public service, I am writing to kindly request that you order flags to be flown at half-staff at all public buildings in our state…”

Meek, who died Sunday at 95, was indeed a trailblazer. She spent 30 years as an educator before entering politics, during which she — among many other firsts — was the first Black professor, associate dean and assistant to the vice president at what is now Miami Dade College, according to Miami-Dade County records. The school’s Entrepreneurial Education Center is named in her honor.

In 1982, after serving more than three years in the Florida House, Meek became the first African American woman elected to the Florida Senate. She was 66. Ten years later, she, Corrine Brown and the late Alcee Hastings became the first Black Floridians to serve in Congress since 1876.

Among her first goals in Washington: helping to secure $100 million in federal aid to rebuild Miami-Dade County after Hurricane Andrew as the only freshman Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Over the next decade, she championed many causes, including affirmative action, boosting economic mobility for the poor and easing immigration restrictions on Haiti, the birthplace of many of her constituents.

She left office in 2003. Her son, Kendrick Meek, successfully ran to succeed her to represent Florida’s 17th Congressional District. At the time, the district covered many of South Florida’s African American areas, including Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar and North Miami.

Upon returning to Miami, she ran the Carrie Meek Foundation, which provides grants, civic engagement and community development services to marginalized, low-wealth Miami-Dade communities. She stepped down from leading the organization in 2015.

On Wednesday, Miami-Dade Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution by Kionne McGhee honoring Meek’s life and legacy and expressing sympathy and condolences to her family.

Before taking a vote, Commissioner Keon Hardemon asked to change one clause in the resolution’s text that said, “She was the granddaughter of a slave and daughter of a sharecropper, and raised in the Jim Crow South.”

That is inaccurate, Hardemon said.

“Her grandmother was a child of God, and she was held as a slave,” he said. “But people are not slaves.”

McGhee accepted the change, as well as co-prime sponsorship requests from Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Javier Souto and co-sponsorship requests from the remaining Commission.

He then asked to modify the resolution once more to direct Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s administration to fly flags at all Miami-Dade government buildings at half-staff for the remainder of December.

But Levine Cava said there was no need: “We’ve already directed that the flags be placed at half-mast,” she said.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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