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HomenewsThe Longest-Serving Black Lawmaker in New Jersey Has Died at The Age...

The Longest-Serving Black Lawmaker in New Jersey Has Died at The Age of 77.

Ron Rice, a former state senator from New Jersey and the longest-serving Black lawmaker in state history, passed away on Tuesday following a protracted illness, according to a former employee of Rice’s.

Rice, 77, was a steadfast supporter of social justice and paved the way on topics like police reform and socioeconomic injustices that mostly affected communities of colour. The New Jersey Legislature Black Caucus was created and presided over by the Essex County Democrat.

On Wednesday afternoon, tributes flooded in for the late statesman.

“I was saddened to learn of Senator Ronald L. Rice’s demise today. He will be much missed, according to Shavonda Sumter, an assemblywoman from Passaic who took over for Rice as chair of the NJLBC. “Senator Rice gave untold amounts of advice and assistance to his friends and fellow lawmakers throughout his lifetime. We will always remember his passion for advancing women in politics and his persistent commitment to protecting our neighborhoods.

Democrat and second-term governor Phil Murphy said he will sign an executive order mandating flags to fly at half-staff in memory of Rice.

“Senator Rice, who was raised in the Jim Crow South, never shied away from a challenge and never shied away from speaking up when he perceived injustice. Our government and all of New Jersey’s leaders will be motivated to fight towards racial fairness and increase opportunities for underrepresented communities by his legacy and example, Phil Murphy said.
Rice, who left his position in September of last year, was regarded as an honest man who wasn’t bossed around or bought. Both liberal and conservative colleagues held him in high regard.

Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) stated that a lot of people are unaware of how close my late father and Senator Rice were. “I discovered through my dad that Ron was a gentleman and a reliable person. Whether you were a Republican or a Democrat didn’t matter to him. He was always willing to support you if you were doing anything positive. Throughout the course of our time working together in the Legislature, I repeatedly learned it firsthand. Ron was unique, and we will miss him.

Rice started his political career in 1982 and held the position of member of the Newark city council from 1982 to 1998. He was a former U.S. Marine Sergeant and Newark police officer.

He was elected to the state Senate in 1986 and concurrently served on the local council. In addition, Rice worked as Newark’s deputy mayor from 2002 to 2006.

According to a former employee, Rice spent his later years taking care of his wife Shirley, his mother Mary Sue, and his stepmother Essie Mae, all of whom passed away within the previous three years.

Last September, Rice was replaced as a senator by Irvington, New Jersey, Democrat Renee Burgess.

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Parvesh is the Content Writer for New Jersey Local News. Here at New Jersey Local News, she covers local news of New Jersey state. Moreover, Parvesh likes to dance and listen to music. She also finds time in her hectic schedule to relax and spend time with loved ones.


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