By Faith Lawson, iJam Power Radio
In a somber moment for the state of New Jersey, the passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver has left a profound impact on the political landscape and the hearts of many. Her remarkable achievements, dedication to public service, and unwavering commitment to her community have left an indelible mark on the lives she touched.
Governor Phil Murphy, in a heartfelt statement, expressed his deep sorrow and admiration for his dear friend and partner in government:
“Tammy and I, and our children, are incredibly saddened and distraught to learn of the passing of our dear friend, colleague, and partner in government, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver. When I selected her to be my running mate in 2017, Lieutenant Governor Oliver was already a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She had already made history as the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of the General Assembly, and just the second Black woman in the nation’s history to lead a house of a state legislature. I knew then that her decades of public service made her the ideal partner for me to lead the State of New Jersey. It was the best decision I ever made.
In the five and a half years that we served together in office, in addition to her responsibilities as Lieutenant Governor, Sheila led the Department of Community Affairs, handling some of the most challenging issues facing our State, including the revitalization of our cities, affordable housing obligations, and homelessness prevention. As someone who was born and raised in Newark, and who has called East Orange home for more than 40 years, Sheila did not view these issues in the abstract because she lived with them every day of her life. She brought a unique and invaluable perspective to our public policy discourse and served as an inspiration to millions of women and girls everywhere, especially young women of color.
Beyond all of that, she was an incredibly genuine and kind person whose friendship and partnership will be irreplaceable. We ask that you all keep the Oliver family and all those who knew and loved her in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Governor Phil Murphy’s sentiment is shared by countless individuals across the state and beyond, who are mourning the loss of a remarkable leader and trailblazer.
A Pioneer in Every Sense
Before assuming the role of Lieutenant Governor, Sheila Oliver had already etched her name in history as a trailblazer. She made history as the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of the General Assembly and just the second Black woman in the nation’s history to lead a house of a state legislature. Her outstanding accomplishments and decades of public service made her the ideal partner for Governor Phil Murphy to lead the State of New Jersey.
A Champion for the People
During her five and a half years in office, Lieutenant Governor Oliver served not only as the state’s second-in-command but also led the Department of Community Affairs, tackling some of the most pressing and challenging issues facing the state. Her responsibilities included spearheading the revitalization of cities, addressing affordable housing obligations, and finding solutions for homelessness prevention.
Born and raised in Newark, and has called East Orange home for over four decades, Lieutenant Governor Oliver had a deeply personal connection to the issues she addressed. This intimate understanding brought a unique and invaluable perspective to New Jersey’s public policy discourse. She served as an inspiration to millions, particularly young women of color, who saw in her a beacon of hope and possibility.
An Irreplaceable Friend and Partner
Beyond her exceptional professional accomplishments, Sheila Oliver was known for her genuine kindness and approachability. She forged deep connections with those she served and worked alongside, leaving an indelible impression on all who had the privilege of knowing her. Her friendship and partnership with Governor Murphy were a testament to her authenticity and dedication to the people of New Jersey.
A Legacy of Inspiration
As the state mourns the loss of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, her legacy of perseverance, dedication, and trailblazing spirit lives on. Her impact will continue to shape the future of New Jersey and inspire generations of public servants to come.
During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Oliver family and all those who knew and loved her. May her memory be a guiding light and a source of strength for us all as we continue the work she so passionately championed.