TRENTON, NJ – Sheila Oliver, New Jersey’s pioneering Lieutenant Governor and the first African American woman to hold statewide office, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 71. Oliver’s groundbreaking career and lifetime of public service left an indelible impact on the Garden State.
Born in Newark, NJ, Oliver was a proud “Jersey Girl” Her diverse upbringing shaped her commitment to social justice and community service. Oliver first entered politics as an Essex County freeholder. Her passion and dedication quickly propelled her to the State Assembly, where she made history as New Jersey’s first African American female Speaker.
In 2017, Oliver ascended to Lieutenant Governor, becoming the first Black woman elected to statewide office in NJ. She served from 2018 until her recent passing, bringing hope and inspiration. Re-elected in 2021 alongside Governor Murphy, Oliver’s popularity testified to her effective leadership.
As Lieutenant Governor, Oliver spearheaded initiatives supporting marginalized groups and promoting equality. She navigated political challenges with grace. Her sudden death after undisclosed health issues shocked New Jersey, prompting tributes from officials statewide.
N.J Lt. Gov. Shared a post writing a tribute note:
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, a pioneering public official, has passed away at 71. The Essex County Democrat was the first Black woman to hold statewide office in New Jersey.
Governor Phil Murphy Shared a Tribute Post on Facebook:
Tammy and I, and our children, are incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, colleague, and partner in government, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver.
We ask that you all keep the Oliver family and all those who loved her in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time
New Jersey State Police Shared a Post on Facebook writing Tribute:
Statement from Colonel Patrick J. Callahan on the Passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver
Oliver leaves a lasting mark on New Jersey politics. Her courageous career as a trailblazer will continue inspiring future leaders. Oliver’s commitment to community and social justice exemplified public service.
New Jersey honors the life and legacy of Sheila Oliver – a barrier-breaker, role model and dedicated champion for all citizens of the Garden State. Oliver’s courage and achievements will echo through the generations she has influenced.