Legendary newsperson Gwen Ifill, a trailblazing Black female journalist, has died at age 61. My condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, and fans.
Ifill, the host of PBS' Washington Week, was a veteran Washington journalist who covered seven presidential campaigns and moderated the vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.She was really extraordinary, and I will miss her work a great deal.
Ifill was also the best-selling author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.
In 2013, Ifill was named co-host of the PBS NewsHour. In an interview with The New York Times, she reflected on what her appointment could mean to a new generation.
"When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that's the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color," she said. "I'm very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy [Woodruff] sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that's perfectly normal — that it won't seem like any big breakthrough at all."
Ifill died in hospice after battling cancer. I had no idea she was ill; I don't believe it was made public. A number of people (myself included) questioned why she was not chosen as a debate moderator this cycle, and I guess now we know. I am so, so sad that she's gone.