The state of New Jersey is mourning the loss of Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, a trailblazer and the first Black woman to hold a statewide-elected office in the Garden State.
She passed away at the age of 71, and her family announced the sad news without disclosing the cause of death.
In a statement, her family remembered her as a dedicated and inspirational figure, highlighting her commitment to the people of New Jersey and her tireless efforts to uplift the community.
Lt. Gov. Oliver had an impressive career in public service. She was elected to the state general assembly in 2003 and later became the first Black woman to serve as speaker of the state assembly.
In 2018, she made history again as the first woman of color to serve in a statewide elected office as New Jersey’s lieutenant governor.
Oliver, in a commencement address, shared how she unexpectedly got into politics but dedicated herself to serving the people, leading her to become the speaker of the assembly and later the lieutenant governor.
Governor Phil Murphy, who chose Oliver as his running mate, praised her as a trailblazer and the perfect partner to lead the state, calling it the best decision he ever made.
During her time as lieutenant governor, Oliver headed the Department of Community Affairs, overseeing state aid to towns and cities and code enforcement.
She was known for her advocacy for social justice, affordable housing, and economic opportunities, especially for those in disadvantaged communities.
Leaders and officials, including Senator Cory Booker and Senator Bob Menendez, offered their condolences and remembered Oliver as a tireless advocate for the people.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams also recognized her as a trailblazer who shattered barriers for women of color in government.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver’s remarkable contributions to the state and its people will be remembered and will continue to inspire generations to come. Memorial arrangements to honor her life and service will be announced later.