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Influential journalist Gwen Ifill honored with USPS stamp

Gwen Ifill started in journalism when black reporters were scarce. Now, the famed PBS anchor's face is on a stamp.
The Gwen Ifill Black Heritage Commemorative Forever Stamp is seen by distinguished guests during a Postal Service unveiling ceremony at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church on Jan. 30, 2020, in Washington.Michael A. McCoy / AP

One of the most recognizable faces in TV news, former PBS anchor Gwen Ifill started as a reporter in a predominantly white, male journalism industry. Within years of her start in local news, she was covering presidential campaigns for the biggest media organizations in the country.

She’s regarded as one of the most respected reporters of all time, and someone who pushed the bar forward for women of color in journalism. Now, she’s on a stamp.

Yesterday, the trailblazing reporter and anchor, who died in 2016, was honored as the face of the U.S. Postal Service’s 43rd Black Heritage Forever stamp, which was officially issued today. She joins Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, and Jackie Robinson, whose faces have all been recognized with a Forever stamp in previous years. Ifill’s stamp was designed by Derry Noyes and features a photo taken in 2008 of a smiling Ifill on a white background.

“Gwen Ifill was a remarkable trailblazer who broke through gender and racial barriers,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman in a statement. Stroman officiated the dedication ceremony. “Gwen was truly a national treasure, and so richly deserving of today’s honor.”

Ifill started as a reporter right out of college in 1977, a time when black women were scarce in journalism. Throughout her career, which spanned three decades and seven presidential campaigns, she became one of the most respected journalists in national politics. She worked for The Boston Herald American, The Baltimore Evening Sun, The Washington Post and The New York Times, and NBC before settling down at PBS in 1999.

There, she was the host of Washington Week and in 2013 became part of the first all-female daily-news anchor team at NewsHour. She moderated presidential and vice-presidential debates in 2004 and 2008, notably stumping Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards with questions about the state of healthcare for black women.

Ifill’s co-anchor and current NewsHour host Judy Woodruff joined Stroman for the dedication of the stamp.

“The Ifill family is thrilled that our sister, cousin and aunt has received this signal tribute to her legacy as a truth-teller, pioneer and exemplar,” Gwen’s brother Bert Ifill said in a statement. “As a mentor, supportive friend and family member, she was determined, not only to open doors for those of us previously locked out of opportunity, but also to provide floor plans to help us find our way through. She is forever in our hearts, and we are forever in her debt.”

People are already buying their Gwen Ifill stamps.

“I got my #GwenIfillForever stamps today and I’d say that I’m excited to use them, but I’m probably going to save them for myself,” a Washington Post Reporter said in a tweet. “Or maybe I’ll only use them once a year, on DC’s Gwen Ifill Day. That’s a reasonable compromise, right?”

Another Twitter user said, “Got my #GwenIfill stamps! Last one at my post office.”

In a PBS broadcast after the ceremony, Woodruff wore a purple blazer, the same color Ifill wears in her photo on the stamp. She spoke about the mark Ifill left on the industry and the bond they shared as co-anchors.

“Some people leave a mark long after they're gone. Gwen Ifill is one of them. And, as of today, her smile can stick to any message you write,” Woodruff said.