Written by Journalist Isheka Harrison
for Black PR Wire
(Black PR Wire) MIAMI, Fla. -- A room filled to the brim. Attendees teeming with reverence. A national icon getting the recognition she deserves from a community she spent her career fighting for. This is what unfolded Tuesday, Dec. 5, when retired Florida Congresswoman Carrie P. Meek, 93, was honored during the 30th Anniversary Commemoration of her namesake Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center.
People from all walks of life converged on the campus of the Liberty City institution to honor Meek, who has made history more than once in her life. First, she became the first Black woman elected to the Florida Senate, then she became the first Black person elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction. She was also instrumental in desegregating Miami Dade College.
Accompanied by loved ones – including her children Kendrick Meek and Lucia Raiford and longtime friend Nancy Dawkins – Meek was the picture of humility. After opening ceremonies and music by students from Miami Northwestern Senior High School, speakers recounted how Meek impacted their lives.
“We’re so proud that our center bears the good name of Congresswoman Meek,” said Dr. Malou Harrison, president of MDC’s North and Padron Campuses. “We’re so very honored and grateful to you because were it not for your vision and fortitude, we would not be commemorating here today. Your heart and soul are in the very foundation of this center.”
“Thank you for all of your tireless efforts and dedication. You’ve touched thousands of lives,” said Miami Dade College’s Chief Information Officer Robert Parrondo.
“The Honorable Carrie P. Meek is one of the pioneers that led the initiative and Miami-Dade’s commitment to respond to the needs of the Liberty City community,” said Marcella Holness, executive director of the Meek Center. “If I may speak on behalf of the college and community, we want to say thank you Congresswoman Meek for your vision, passion and love for Liberty City.”
Other highlights of the program included an unveiling of a commemorative canvas to honor Meek and a $200,000 donation from William “Bill” D. Rohrer and his wife Toby B. Rohrer to the Miami Dade College Foundation to support students from Liberty City.
An extension of Miami Dade College (MDC), the Meek Center was founded in 1989 after Meek secured $2.3 million to have it built. Originally called the Liberty City Entrepreneurial Educational Center at Miami Dade Community College, it is located at 6300 NW 7 Avenue.
Boasting a “specialized focus on entrepreneurship, and economic and community development,” the center offers: associate degree programs, college credit certificates, ACT/SAT prep, teacher endorsement courses, a GED program, etc.
Harrison described it as “a beacon of opportunity for the people of Liberty City” that will continue to serve as an asset to residents for years to come.
Shanise Daley, 21, is one of those residents. The young mother is taking her prerequisite classes to earn her nursing degree and also tutors students in English.
“I live in the neighborhood and I would see the Meek Center when I passed by so one day, I just decided to check it out. I’ve been here for about a year and it’s been an amazing experience,” Daley said.
According to Harrison, over 80,000 students have taken classes at the Meek Center since its inception. Kendrick Meek said it is just one of the ways his mother’s impact is felt both locally and worldwide.
“I’ve been in Europe and I’ve been in Africa and you hear world leaders saying, ‘How’s your mom,’” Meek said. “She’s definitely a national treasure and I want to thank you again for honoring her. She’s 93 years old and she’s here to witness this love and appreciation. It touches her at the bottom of her heart, and it touches us as a family that the community has not forgotten this great warrior and shero (who fought) on behalf of people and for goodwill in our community,” Kendrick Meek said.
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