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 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.”