|Name||Kendrick B. Meek|
Miami, Florida , United States
|| September 06, 1966
Sep 06, 2011 09:11pm
Black - Liberal - Anti Alaska/Offshore Oil Drilling - Anti-Bush Tax Cuts (Pro-Tax Cut Rollback) - Anti-Tort Reform - Government Reform - Health Care Reform - Internationalist - Pro Embryonic Stem Cell Research - Pro Environment - Pro Free Trade - Pro-Affirmative Action - Pro-Choice - Pro-Gay Marriage - Pro-Labor - Married - Baptist -
|Info||Kendrick Meek learned the value of public service as a child. But it was as a parent that he realized just how much decisions made by the government affect everyone - including kindergartners. |
How could 5- and 6-year-olds, including his daughter, learn effectively when they were packed in a room with 33 other rambunctious kids? They couldn't, Kendrick decided.
So the father and Florida State Senator took action. In 2002, Kendrick launched an initiative to reduce class sizes in Florida's overcrowded public schools. As chairman of Florida's Coalition to Reduce Class Size, Kendrick led a petition drive that collected more than 500,000 signatures. He guided the amendment through two opposition efforts in the Florida Supreme Court, as well as a campaign meant to kill the measure at the ballot box. But the people spoke. About 2.5 million Florida citizens voted for the measure, and it was approved.
"I wasn't fighting just for my daughter, Lauren," Kendrick said. "I was fighting for her classmates. I was fighting so that all kids would get a good start in an environment in which they could learn. As a father, and a lawmaker, nothing is more important to me."
It wasn't the first - or last - time Kendrick stood up for the little guy.
Kendrick's mission has always been this: to use his talents to serve his community.
His involvement started early. When his mother, Carrie Meek, decided to run for the state Legislature, 12-year-old Kendrick helped out by painting campaign signs at the kitchen table. As a college student, he honed his political leadership skills as the founder and president of the Florida A&M University's Democratic club. The next year, he became statewide president of the College Young Democrats.
He graduated from FAMU in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a reputation as a leader on the football field. He launched his law enforcement career as a Trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol , helping keep the public safe on the state's roadways. He later became a captain and was assigned to the security detail traveling with Democratic Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay. After Hurricane Andrew blasted South Florida in 1992, Meek assisted MacKay with the state’s hurricane relief efforts. Kendrick also became an on-the-job student of government, attending meetings with MacKay and former Gov. Lawton Chiles.
Still, he couldn't shake the feeling that writing laws - not simply enforcing them - was where he could have his greatest impact. So he resigned from his job and ran for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives, which he won. He served there from 1995 to 1998 and in the Florida Senate from 1999 to 2002.
While in the Florida House, Kendrick worked with Republicans on a bipartisan measure to provide compensation for two African-Americans, Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee, who had been wrongly convicted of murder 35 years earlier. He also became a strong voice for the opposition under the governor. In 2000 while in the Florida Senate, Kendrick led a 25-hour-long sit-in outside the governor's office to protest the governor's plan to roll back state policies that made sure all Floridians had equal educational and workplace opportunities. The sit-in, along with three town hall meetings attended by state residents, placed sufficient pressure on the governor that he was forced to cancel his executive order in favor of a more-balanced measure passed in the Legislature. The Miami Herald said "the incident galvanized one of the largest civil-rights marches on the state capital in history" and prompted a massive voter-mobilization effort.
"I thought it would be a 10-minute episode," Kendrick joked at the time.
Kendrick at the capitol.
In 2002, Kendrick was elected to represent the 17th Congressional District of Florida, which includes parts of Miami-Dade and Broward County. He was elected to his fourth term in the U.S. House in 2008. The Miami Herald wrote that Kendrick "has grown in influence and effectiveness in Congress, working across the aisle to promote issues and funding for his district" and that he is "tireless, creative and willing to work across party lines." One House Leader described Kendrick as a "rising leader in the House who is respected throughout our caucus and throughout the Congress." People back home also give Kendrick kudos. He's been honored by groups as diverse as the Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and civil rights organizations.
Kendrick is the only Florida Democrat with a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which writes bills regarding entitlement programs that affect every American, such as Social Security and Medicare. He was appointed to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy agenda for the House Democratic Caucus. He's a co-chairman of the 30-Something Working Group, whose goal is to engage young people in the legislative process, in part through a weekly address from the House floor. The group's efforts were credited for boosting youth involvement in the 2006 midterm elections that gave Democrats the majority of both the House and Senate.