Late Baltimore journalist Gwen Ifill to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp

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Image via USPS

 A former Baltimore Evening Sun reporter will soon be honored on a U.S. postage stamp. 

The late Gwen Ifill, who covered William Donald Schaefer’s City Hall in the early 1980s and later became the first African American woman to host a national political talk show, is among the “people, events and cultural milestones” being commemorated in a new series of First Class “Forever” stamps next year.

The U.S. Postal Service announced this week that Ifill, whom it called “one of America’s most esteemed journalists,” will be the 43rd person depicted in its Black Heritage series.

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

The stamp will feature a photo of Ifill taken in 2008 by photographer Robert Severi, with the words Black Heritage at the top and Ifill’s name at the bottom. Art director Derry Noyes is the designer.

Born in 1955, Ifill worked as a City Hall reporter for The Evening Sun from 1981 to 1984. It was a time when the A.S. Abell Co. still had two daily newspapers in Baltimore with separate and competing staffs, The Evening Sun and The [Morning] Sun. Ifill got her share of scoops over rival City Hall reporters Sandy Banisky and Will Englund at The Sun. The evening paper eventually folded in 1987. 

After Baltimore, Ifill wrote for The Washington Post and The New York Times. In the 1990s, she made the leap to broadcast journalism, first covering politics for NBC and then joining PBS in 1999.

At PBS, she was a co-anchor for PBS NewsHour for 17 years and moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week,” a political talk show. Her position with “Washington Week” made her the first African-American woman to host a national political talk show. With NewsHour co-host Judy Woodruff, she was also part of the first all-female anchor team on a nightly news program.

While at PBS, Ifill covered eight presidential campaigns and moderated two vice presidential debates. In 2009, she wrote “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”

She died at 61 in November 2016 after a year-long battle with cancer. Her alma mater, Simmons College in Boston, renamed its communications school the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts and Humanities to honor her.

Her cousin, Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, tweeted earlier this week that seeing the honor for her mother “just makes my heart soar.”

Other subjects to be featured on Forever stamps in 2020 include champion golfer Arnold Palmer (who also died in 2016), the state of Maine, Wild Orchids, Earth Day, the 19th Amendment, hip-hop, the Year of the Rat and the Harlem Renaissance.

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.
Ed Gunts


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