Longtime political and social activist Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey Sheila Oliver passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, officials announced today.

Oliver, 71, was serving as acting governor while New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was on vacation in Italy. Oliver was admitted to the hospital on Monday for an undisclosed illness, and Democratic Senate President Nicholas Scutari assumed the post shortly after Oliver was hospitalized.

Oliver was the highest-ranking African-American woman in New Jersey state government. She was appointed as Lt. Governor in 2017. Additionally, she made history in 2010, becoming the first Black woman to serve as state Assembly speaker.

In a statement from Italy, Governor Murphy said, in part, “When I selected her to be my running mate in 2017, Lieutenant Governor Oliver was already a trailblazer in every sense of the word…”

Oliver was also the head of the Department of Community Affairs. She was a vocal advocate for minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs)–often ensuring M/WBEs received a fair share of state contracts.

Lt. Governor Oliver’s family states, “It is with incredible sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the passing of the Honorable Sheila Y. Oliver, Lieutenant Governor of the State of New Jersey. She was a distinguished public servant and our cherished duaghter, sister, aunt, friend, and hero..As we come to terms with this profound loss, we kindly request that you respect the privacy of the Oliver family during this difficult time….”

This is a developing story; continue to follow NJ Urban News for updates…

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