Former state Sen. Ronald Rice, a fiercely independent Democrat who served Newark for decades, has died at age 77.
Rice, the longest-serving African-American member of the Legislature, has died at the age of 77. The mayor announced the sad news.
Mayor Ted R. Greene makes a statement as follows:
“I was incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Rice, a man I loved and stood up for the voiceless for over 36 years.
From fighting for racial equality and women’s rights to criminal justice reform and reparations, Senator Rice has inspired New Jersey residents and beyond with her wisdom, guidance, deep understanding of our history, and devotion to the advancement of the underserved; Never afraid to be a vocal champion of the poor and marginalized, forcing fellow legislators to face uncomfortable truths.
My heart and prayers go out to Senator Rice’s family and friends. May his legacy live on through us all.
“He was a fighter. He was the epitome of integrity. Essex County Democratic Chair LeRoy Jones said he was “our African-American hero.
Who is Ronald Rice?
Rice was born on December 18, 1945, in Richmond, Virginia, United States, a former Newark police detective and a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War. He served in the Senate from 1986 until his retirement in August due to ill health.
Rice founded the Legislative Black Caucus, served as its first president, and devoted her life to racial and social justice causes.
In addition, he was well known for his criticism of New Jersey’s political capitalist system, and Rice frequently clashed with the state’s most influential Democrats.
Rice earned an AS in Police Science from Essex County College, a BS in Administration and Planning from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and an MA in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University.
He attended Rutgers School of Law—Newark, but did not graduate from there. He earned several degrees in criminal justice before joining the Newark Police Department in 1972 and rising to the rank of detective in 1974.
Before being nominated to the Senate, he began working for the Public Service Electric and Gas Company in 1980.
Rice’s involvement in politics came much later. From 1966 to 1970, he served in the Marine Corps, half of which was spent in Vietnam.
Political career of Ronald Rice
Raised in the Jim Crow South, Rice rose to fame in Newark, the state’s largest city. According to his biography, he was elected to the municipal council in 1982 and re-elected in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
In 2002, he was elected to serve as Newark’s Deputy Mayor. Rice was Newark’s deputy mayor from 2002 to March 2006 and spent 16 years on the Newark City Council (1982–1998).
In order to run for mayor, he resigned his post as deputy mayor. Because New Jersey does not prohibit holding dual office, he was allowed to serve in both the City Council and the State Senate concurrently.
Ronald Rice is a NJ State Senator
In August 1986 John B. Rice was elected in a special election to represent the 28th District after Caufield’s death. He took office on December 4, 1986.
He was elected in 1997 by Lawrence Brown, in 2001 by Assemblyman Willie P. Brown and Freeholder D in 2007. Despite facing stiff competition in the Democratic primary from Bill Beasley, he fell short of two-thirds of the vote in his Senate general. Elections.
Rice supported Democratic candidate John Kerry as one of New Jersey’s presidential candidates in the 2004 presidential election.
He was a prominent opponent of marijuana legalization legislation in the 218th New Jersey Legislature, saying legalization would “combat the proliferation of ‘marijuana bodegas’ disguised as dispensaries” in urban communities.
New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus
Rice was a leader in racial justice issues. He sponsored legislation allowing local governments to establish civil review boards with subpoena power and called for a statewide investigation into racial bias in the criminal justice system.
Rice fought for the rights of women, especially women of color. He was a staunch advocate for racial justice and a prominent leader serving as the chair of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus.
Rice chaired the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus for 18 years, “with the goal of prioritizing legislative and policy agendas, particularly ensuring that people of color are treated equally and fairly in social justice, economic justice, and criminal justice reform.”
Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Passaic) says she was “personally tapped” by the veteran lawmaker to replace her in 2021.
Cause of death Ronald Rice
Ronald Rice passed away at the age of 77 after several months of ill health. Rice left office on August 31, 2022 after facing several health problems.
He passed away on March 15, 2023 after a battle with cancer. Fellow politicians and friends paid tribute to Rice. As the news of Arisi’s death broke, tributes poured in on social media.
This year, Rice’s alma mater Rutgers University revealed it was creating a scholarship in his honor to help students enrolled in the school’s criminal justice program.
Rice’s support for legislation allowing municipalities to set up civil review boards and his request for a study of racial bias in the state’s criminal justice system were cited by the university as examples of his advocacy for racial justice.
Governor Bill Murphy announced that state flags will be flown at half-mast in Rice’s honor.
“His legacy and example will continue to inspire this administration and all of New Jersey’s leaders to work toward racial equity and expand opportunity for underserved communities. Murphy said in a statement.