‘One of the greats’

Gwen Ifill was remembered as a trailblazer and one of the nation’s most esteemed journalists during the Jan. 30 dedication ceremony for the stamp in her honor.

Ifill, among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both broadcast and print journalism, was known for her integrity, thoughtful analysis and penchant for asking questions that held people in power accountable.

“Gwen was one of the greats, a national treasure and so richly deserving of today’s honor,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman, who spoke at the ceremony.

The event was held in Washington, DC, at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Ifill — whose father was an AME minister — was a member and where a pew was dedicated in her honor following her death in 2016.

Other speakers included Judy Woodruff, Ifill’s “PBS NewsHour” co-anchor; Eric Holder Jr., formerly a U.S. attorney general; journalist Michele Norris-Johnson; Ifill’s brothers, Bert and Earle Ifill; her cousin, Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser, who declared Jan. 30 as Gwen Ifill Day in the city.

Ifill worked at several newspapers, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, before moving to NBC News to cover Capitol Hill.

Later, at PBS, she was senior political correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and managing editor and host of “Washington Week.”

In 2013, Ifill and Woodruff became the first two-woman anchor team on a national broadcast nightly news program when they succeeded Lehrer as hosts of the renamed “PBS NewsHour.”

“In this time of pervasive cynicism, political polarization [and] charges of fake news, Gwen was a beacon of honest, fair, rigorous and devoted reporting. She knew and lived every day of her professional life that truth matters,” Woodruff said.

Ifill moderated two vice presidential debates and authored a book on the nation’s African American political structure. She received several awards for her work and was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.

“She was a consummate journalist who understood the power, but also the responsibility, that went with that role,” Holder said. “Through interviews and debate, Gwen — a proud black woman — consistently demonstrated what it meant to be excellent at her craft.”

The Gwen Ifill Forever stamp, available at Post Offices and usps.com, features a 2008 photograph of the subject wearing purple, a favorite color that Woodruff donned at the ceremony in Ifill’s honor.

The stamp is the 43rd entry in the Postal Service’s Black Heritage series, which also has honored civil rights icons such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, lawmakers like Barbara Jordan, and several other writers and media figures, including Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois and John H. Johnson.

In her remarks, Sherrilyn Ifill said her family and the nation continue to mourn her cousin.

But, after glancing at the stamp artwork on stage, she added: “Nothing has done more to heal the pain of losing her than those three simple words: Gwen Ifill Forever.”

African American History Month

The Postal Service will mark African American History Month, which is held each February.

“African Americans have played a vital role in the history of our organization,” said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “The Postal Service is proud to observe African American History Month each year and honor the important contributions of African Americans to our country and our organization.”

USPS will commemorate the month through activities at its facilities, as well as events to celebrate the release of a Black Heritage stamp honoring Gwen Ifill, a trailblazing journalist who died in 2016.

Approximately 27 percent of the Postal Service workforce is African American.

Many African Americans found work in urban Post Offices at the beginning of the 20th century, helping them to build a foundation for the middle class.

African American History Month traces its roots to February 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson helped establish a weeklong commemoration to raise awareness of African Americans’ contributions. The observance was expanded to a full month in 1976.

The usps.com Postal History section has additional information, including articles about 19th-century and 20th-century African American postal employees.

Patience pays

The Postal Service has surpassed the $295 million mark in its yearlong drive to generate $1 billion in estimated annualized revenue through sales leads from employees.

The Race for a $Billion campaign, which began in the fall, calls on every employee to submit at least one lead before the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

One example: Seldon, NY, Postmaster Frank Kouba, who recently submitted a lead that will bring in more than $380,000 in estimated annualized revenue for USPS.

The sale occurred after Kouba visited the business and told the owner about the advantages of using Priority Mail to ship his products and services.

“I’d been [at the business] multiple times before,” Kouba said. “But this time, he was open to hearing about USPS shipping options.”

Mary Anderson, the Postal Service’s small-business engagement director, said Kouba’s success shows that patience pays.

“Customers may not be ready to talk when you make a first attempt,” Anderson said. “Many small-business owners don’t have a moment to sit down with you. But if you let them know you’re willing to come back when they’re free, you’re showing you care about their time and you care about their business.”

The Sales Blue page has the latest ranking of all 67 USPS districts in the campaign, as well as more information about the lead generation programs.