Gwen Ifill Memorialized with USPS Forever Stamp

The US Postal Service will honor the late PBS journalist Gwen Ifill in a new batch of Forever stamps set to be released in 2020. Ifill, who worked in print and broadcast, died at the age of 61 in 2016 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Ifill will be honored on the 43rd stamp in the Black Heritage series, the Postal Service said. The stamp, which was designed by art director Derry Noyes, will feature a 2008 photograph of Ifil taken by photographer Robert Severi.

The Black Heritage series has also celebrated the life of civil rights activist Dorothy Height, entertainer Lena Horne, and the “father of Black history” Carter G. Woodson. The Postal Service’s special stamps have been honoring people, events, and cultural milestones since 1847, according to CBS News.

“Among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both broadcast and print journalism, Ifill was a trailblazer in the profession,” the Postal Service said in a press release on October 22.

The esteemed journalist worked at PBS "NewsHour" for 17 years, during which she covered eight presidential campaigns and moderated two vice-presidential debates — in 2004 between Dick Cheney and John Edwards and in 2008 between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

In 2015, Ifill also moderated a primary debate between Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who were vying for the Democratic nomination. Clinton went on to win the nomination, but lost the presidential race to Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Ifill was the first Black woman to host a national political talk show on Washington Week, NBC News reported. She was also part of the first all-female anchor team on a nightly newscast with "NewsHour."

“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness, and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” PBS "NewsHour" executive producer Sara Just said in a statement at the time of Ifill’s death, according to Politico. “She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around her.”

The New York City native launched her career at the Boston Herald-American. Prior to her work at PBS, Ifill wrote for the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. During the 1990s, she left print and moved over to broadcast, covering politics and Congress for NBC News.

Ifill wrote The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama in 2009. The book, which delved into the role race played in the 2008 presidential election, was published on inauguration day.

“Gwen covered politics and the presidential race with class, wisdom and insight, separating her from the pack,” said Sarah Glover, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, according to NBC News.

Ifill was previously honored by her alma mater, Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts. The university, which she graduated from in 1977, renamed its communications school the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities.

During her life, she received more than 20 honorary doctorates and was honored by the Peabody Awards, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center, and the National Association of Black Journalists.

According to Politico, Ifill served on the boards of the News Literacy Project, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and was a fellow with the American Academy of Sciences.

The 2020 Forever stamps will pay tribute to Arnold Palmer, observe the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat, and celebrate hip hop. Each of the four hip hop stamps will feature photographs by Cade Martin depicting the four elements of hip hop: MCing (rapping), b-boying (breakdancing), DJing and graffiti art. The stamps have the words “Forever,” “USA,” “Hip Hop,” and include one of the four elements.

The Postal Service will also celebrate the Harlem Renaissance by featuring portraits of four literary figures: Alain Locke, Nella Larsen, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, and Anne Spencer. The portrait stamps, designed by art director Greg Breeding, will include African-inspired motifs in the background as well as the title “Voices of the Harlem Renaissance.”

The USPS warned that the 2020 stamps that were unveiled on October 22 “are preliminary and subject to change.”


About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.