Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver Memorial Ceremonies Planned For August 10 Through 12

By: Morgan Reitzel, Follow South Jersey Intern

New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver. Photo credit: State of New Jersey website.

SOUTH JERSEY – Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver,  the first Black woman to serve as speaker of the General Assembly and highest-ranking Black official in state history, passed away on August 1, 2023 at 71, (see story here) and official arrangements were made to give the public opportunities to say goodbye August 10-12. 

On August 10, a rotating honor guard will be escorted from the N.J. State Police as Oliver lies in state in the rotunda at the New Jersey Statehouse. 

Next, on August 11, Oliver will lie in state at the Essex County Historic Courthouse with a rotating honor guard from the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. 

Lastly, on August 12, Oliver will be interred in a private ceremony for friends and family but before a public memorial service will be taking place at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. 

Oliver has pushed boundaries by being the first woman of color to serve in a statewide elected office in New Jersey history and second in the nation to lead a state legislative house. 

Oliver mainly successfully advocated for social justice, women’s equality and fair education during her time in office. 

Lt. Governor Oliver was reelected in 2021, for a second term in office and was first elected in 2003 to serve the  34th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly.

During her time as Lieutenant Governor, she served as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. This meant that she left her efforts for affordable housing, homeless prevention, community revitalization, and local government services that support New Jersey’s 564 municipalities. 

Lt. Gov Oliver has done amazing things for the community as well as the rest of New Jersey. Some of those things can include having a “ federal Opportunity Zones tax incentive, the Main Street New Jersey program, the Neighborhood Preservation Program, the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program, and the Urban Enterprise Zone Program, which was renewed by legislation she signed in 2021,” according to the Official Site of the State of New Jersey. 

In the event that Gov. Murphy was out of state or unavailable, Oliver was acting governor. This was mostly when Murphy was being treated for cancer and she told a steadfast poise for residents to follow as the first cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed.

Additionally, Oliver signed multiple bills in law, which includes the Caregiver Task Force. This is a way to identify how to support people who are taking care of elderly or disabled loved ones. Moving forward, she signed a bill that required all public schools students in grades 6-8 to receive financial literacy education. Next, Oliver strengthens equal pay by allowing employees to ask co-workers what their salary is. Lastly, Oliver established a Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program within the Juvenile Justice Commission. This is to try and stop troubled youth into entering the juvenile justice system again. 

“As we come together in shared mourning over the loss of our family member and friend Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, we will remember the legacy she leaves behind as a changemaker and trailblazer,”  said Gov. Murphy in a statement. “Together, we will honor and celebrate her remarkable contributions to the state she loved, recognizing the profound impact she had on the millions of people who call New Jersey home.”

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