Sherrilyn Ifill and Gwen Ifill at OSI-Baltimore’s Talking About Race event in 2009.
OSI-Baltimore is deeply saddened by the passing of Gwen Ifill, the Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and a pioneer of political journalism.
Ifill started her career as a reporter with the Baltimore Evening Sun from 1981 to 1984, and worked for the Washington Post and The New York Times before taking over as moderator of PBS’s Washington Week in Review in 1999 and becoming the first African-American woman to host a major political talk show. NPR called her one the “most prominent political journalist in the country.”
Ifill covered presidential campaigns and moderated several debates, beginning with the 2004 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, and continued through the Democratic primary debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders this year. Ifill’s best-selling book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, was released on January 20, 2009, the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Ifill was a guest at one of OSI-Baltimore’s first Talking About Race events, on June 4, 2009, where she discussed “How to Build Success Without Forgetting the Struggle.” She appeared along with her first cousin, Sherrilyn Ifill, now president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a member of Open Society Foundations’ Global Board (and a former member of OSI-Baltimore’s Advisory Board). They spoke about the election of Barack Obama as a pivotal moment in American history and its potential to advance equity and social justice as well as the family dinners that sparked their lifelong interest in justice and politics.