Bergen/Passaic Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter was recently elected the first women to chair the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus (NJ LBC). Sumter ran uncontested for the position during virtual election this week.

Serving in the New Jersey State Assembly since 2012, Sumter has served in the executive leadership as Deputy Speaker and Majority Conference Leader. She represents the 35th Legislative District.

In one published interview, Sumter said that the LBC is focused on the impact COVID-19 has had on Black New Jerseys.

“The devastation of COVID-19 last year laid bare the disparate impact of the loss of life to the disease. African Americans make up only 12% of the New Jersey population, but we made up 16% of all deaths last year. This glaring alarm charged the NJLBC into action,” said Sumter, the new LBC Chair. “We began weekly meetings to work in unison from Cape May County to Bergen County to be sure that we were elevating the health disparities and economic needs of the African Americans in our state. We were laser-focused on stemming the tide of loss of life, loss of work, loss of housing, and food insecurities.”

Working with other legislators, Sumter’s recent work includes a bill to create civilian complaint review boards in all state municipalities, requiring cultural diversity and bias training for DOE Arbitrators, a bill creating a COVID-19 pandemic task force to study racial and health disparities.

“The LBC, in the last year alone, fought to codify moratoriums on evictions; provide gap funding for food
banks and target grants to small to mid-size businesses. Then, compounded with the historic pandemic, we were saddled with civil unrest incited by the excessive use of force— witnessed around the world— which caused the death of George Floyd in Minnesota,” said Sumter. “We united with civil rights leaders and social justice partners to fight for the passage of over 40 policy changes to combat systemic and structural racism.”

Sumter was elected with several other new office to the LBC who will start their new positions on April 6.

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