By Angel Johnson, Contributing Writer
Gwen Ifill was a decorated African American journalist. Her influence paved the way for other African Americans to work in the field. She was the host of “Washington Week” for almost 20 years and the co-host of “PBS Newshour.” In 2009 she released her first book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. In the last years of her life she battled with cancer and died in Nov. 2016. But her legacy continues.
As an up and coming journalist in the late 1970’s she faced a lot of racism and sexism. It was rare for an African American woman to be in this field.
Kevin Merida, a journalist for ESPN and longtime friend of Ifill, said he met her while she was in college. He told USA Today he was impressed that she was able to keep a level head throughout her career. She was also able to adapt with ease. It didn’t matter if she was doing print journalism for a Boston paper or co-hosting” PBS Newshour.”
Ifill inspired women like Candice Smith, a reporter for ABC. Smith is one of the only African American reporters who followed Trump for most his presidential race. Smith compares Ifill to Mae Jemison, the first woman to go to space. In high school, Ifill was the reporter people talked about, Smith said.
Ifill also inspired Sonya Ross, the race and ethnicity editor at the Associated Press. Ross said she felt confident as a House Reporter because she’d seen Ifill do it in the past.
The Associated Press Club honored Ifill with the Fourth Estate Award in Oct. 2015 for upholding the values of journalism.
Merida said Ifill did her job well and her passing left many people looking up to her.