Black Experience

Gwen Ifill Immortalized with Postal Service Forever Stamp

The 43rd stamp in the United States Postal Service’s Black Heritage series honors the late Gwen Ifill, one of America’s most esteemed journalists.

The stamp features a photo of Ifill taken in 2008 by photographer Robert Severi and designed by Derry Noyes, according to the Postal Service.

Among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both broadcast and print journalism, Ifill was a trailblazer in the profession.

Ifill was born Sept. 29, 1955, in New York. Her father, O. Urcille Ifill Sr., served as an African Methodist Episcopal minister who hailed from Panama. Her mother, Eleanor Husbands, was from Barbados.

According to Ifill’s 2012 biography and interview with The HistoryMakers, her father’s ministry required the family to live in several cities in different church parsonages throughout New England.

Those stops also included Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York, where the family resided in federally subsidized housing.

Ifill’s interest in journalism was rooted in her parents’ insistence that their children gather nightly in front of the television to watch the national news, according to The HistoryMakers.

In 1973, Ifill graduated from Classical High School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Four years later, she received her B.A. degree in communications from Simmons College in Boston.

“During her senior year, she interned at the Boston Herald American newspaper,” the biography reads.

She later worked at the Baltimore Evening Sun, the Washington Post, and the New York Times before moving over to NBC News.

In 1999, Ifill became the first African American woman to host a prominent political talk show on national television when she became moderator and managing editor of PBS’s “Washington Week” and senior political correspondent for “PBS NewsHour.”

Ifill died at the age of 61 on Nov. 14, 2016.

“She was the most American of success stories,” Sherrilynn Ifill, a law professor, director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Gwen Ifill’s cousin, told NBC News. “Her life and her work made this country better.”

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