By Bobeth Yates

MIAMI (CBSMiami) Former Congresswoman Carrie Meek was known for being a trailblazer. She impacted people from all walks of life and Sunday many in the community came together to celebrate her life and they vowed to make sure her legacy lives on.

“As a family, we are so overwhelmed by the support this community has given the congresswoman”, said Meek’s son for Rep. Kendrick Meek.

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Hundreds of people poured into the Booker T. Washington Senior High School to pay their respects to the former congresswoman during her public viewing after her passing last week.

“There are very few people in Miami-Dade County that haven’t been touched by something she did, whether it’s a program or her personally, she has touched so many lives,” said Melissa Scott, an attendee at the viewing.

But Meek is known for more than just touching lives, she was a woman of many first. The first African American woman in the state Senate, one of the first Black Floridians elected to Congress since the Reconstruction Era. The first Black professor, Associate Dean, and Assistant to the Vice President at Miami Dade College. Accomplishments those who knew her say came second to her love for the community.
 
“I consider her a humanist, someone who cared about individuals. Who cared about human beings, it didn’t matter if you’re Black, white, Hispanic, gay, or whatever she cared about human beings,” said Reginald Homma who also attended the viewing.

Meek 95, was the daughter of a sharecropper and granddaughter of a slave. For decades she fought for the underserved, one of her many passions was making higher education affordable and assessable and, since her death, even those from those across the aisle are paying tribute.

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“She was hard-working, dedicated, she was tough, and yet always with an abundance of love and her charisma,” said US Representative Mario Diaz Balart.

“Love through her service, that was Carrie Meek”, echoed Mario’s brother and former US Representative, Lincoln Diaz Balart. ”It was such a privilege and I thank God for the opportunity to meet her and have worked with her and to learn from her.”

As the community pays their respects, family members say it’s helping them heal.

“Her spirit is alive and well and now as we continue to celebrate her life for the next couple of days, it’s something that I think we will never forget,” said Kendrick Meek.

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Sunday marked the first of several events honoring Meek.  Monday there will be a wake and a going home celebration and funeral will be held Tuesday.