By Sophie Nieto-Muñoz | New Jersey Monitor
Hundreds of mourners visited Trenton Thursday to pay their final respects to Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who was laid in state in the Statehouse’s rotunda.
Oliver’s casket arrived in the state’s capital Thursday morning in a gold hearse, escorted by state troopers. Oliver died last week at age 71.
Oliver is being honored with three days of memorials in Trenton and in Newark. This is the first time in modern history that an elected official has laid in state in the state capitol.
Her casket was draped with the American flag next to a portrait of the late lieutenant governor.
Ahead of the 11 a.m. public ceremony, Gov. Phil Murphy, state lawmakers, members of Congress, and local officials paid their respects to Oliver. Members of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus placed red roses in vases near the casket.
Oliver served as the state’s second lieutenant governor and was the first Black woman to serve as Assembly speaker. She was also the first Black woman to hold statewide elected office.
Joined by lawmakers and Oliver’s family, Assemblyman Reginald Atkins (D-Union) said a short prayer, calling the lieutenant governor a “wonderful woman” who “lived her dream.”
“This is such a tragedy, but it is also a triumph,” said Atkins, who is also a bishop.
Oliver will lie in state at the Essex County Historic Courthouse Friday, where members of the public are also invited to pay their respects. Her funeral will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Her burial will be private.