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Newark Treasure Senator Ron Rice
Sen. Ron Rice, a former Newark West Ward councilman and leading voice in the Black community, died this month at the age of 77-years-old. He was New Jersey's longest-serving Black legislator.
Rice was best known as a powerful force in local and state politics, and was an outspoken advocate for social justice during his three decades of work in public service. As a state senator, he represented Newark's 28th District.
“I am proud of the many ways we have worked together to improve life in every community in our state, across every demographic," Rice wrote in August 2022 to the Senate Majority Office and his colleagues, detailing his resignation from the State Senate. "I am especially heartened by our desperately needed accomplishments toward racial equality and social justice.”
Rice, born in Virginia, came north as part of the Great Migration and settled in Newark. After serving in the U.S. Marines in Vietnam and then the Newark Police Department, he entered politics in 1981 when he was elected to the Newark City Council as West Ward councilman. He was re-elected three times. He also served deputy mayor of Newark from 2002 to 2006 under then-Mayor Sharpe James.
Alongside his efforts in office, Rice was heavily involved in his community.
The Newark lawmaker shared a connection with United Community Corporation (UCC), spotlighting the agency’s outreach efforts in the city.
“The senator was my good friend, and he invited [UCC Executive Director Craig Mainor] on his cable show to discuss the many things UCC was doing,” said Charles Mainor, Community-Based Violence Intervention Program Director at UCC. “He gave UCC the opportunity to speak to his very large base through TV.”
Always zealous in his fight for the needs of residents, their rights and quality of life, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka noted in a statement following Rice’s death that the senator “was always there for Newark when we needed him."