Kendrick Meek, former highway patrolman, Florida state representative, and state senator, has served in the United States House of Representatives as a Democratic representative from Florida’s 17th District since 2003. Meek was born on September 6, 1966 in Miami, Florida, and is the son of former U.S. Representative Carrie Meek, who also represented Florida’s 17th District before her son took over her position.
Meek’s childhood was influenced by his mother’s role as an elected official. He remembers sleeping under his mother’s desk at the Florida House Office Building on days when she worked late. Carrie Meek, whose grandmother was a slave, was the first African American elected to Congress from Florida since the Reconstruction. Kendrick Meek as a teenager understood her important symbolic role to the entire African American population of the state.
Despite dyslexia, Meek worked his way through high school and attend Florida A&M University on a football scholarship. He graduated in 1989 with a degree in science.
After graduating, Meek joined the Florida Highway Patrol and was assigned to the security detail for Democratic Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay. Meek used the opportunity to further his knowledge of state politics, often attending political meetings when he was off duty. During his four year career with the Florida Highway Patrol, Meek became the first African American to reach the rank of captain.
In 1994, Meek ran for the state legislature, and won when his opponent, State Representative Elaine Gordon (who was battling a brain tumor at the time), dropped out. Four years later, Meek easily won reelection. While in the Florida House, Meek worked with Republicans in order to provide compensation for two African Americans who had been falsely convicted for murder 35 years earlier.
During his four years in the state Senate (1998-2002) Meek found himself embroiled in the national debate over the issue of affirmative action. Florida Governor Jeb Bush put forward a new program called One Florida,