By David Pendered
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed released a statement on the death Monday of journalist Gwen Ifill, who interviewed Reed for her book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama and hosted him on a 2012 edition of NewsHour.
Ifill died of cancer at age 61, according to a statement by PBS. Ifill was a longtime news anchor and co-host of PBS’s signature NewsHour. Ifill also moderated PBS’ Washington Week.
In addition to Reed, Ifill shared a connection with Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes became the first two black students to enroll in the University of Georgia, in 1961.
Hunter-Gault had returned to the NewsHour last year to help lead a periodic series that addressed race relations. Hunter-Gault also headlined the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Dinner last year, where Ifill received the Fourth Estate Award for lifetime achievement in journalism.
At the time, Hunter-Gault noted that both she and Ifill were daughters of black preachers:
- “[E]arly in her life, she, like I, was equipped with a layer of armor from the church’s teachings…as we traversed roads not usually traversed by women who look like us.”
Here is the full text of Reed’s statement:
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Gwen Ifill, one of our nation’s most outstanding journalists. Gwen was one of the nation’s few African-American journalists in a leadership position on her weekly show, Washington Week, and on PBS NewsHour. These programs demonstrate the importance of public, not-for-profit news programming in our democracy.
- “Gwen interviewed me for her book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, during my first campaign for Mayor. She always impressed me with her fairness, her knowledge of important issues and her independence. Her recent turn as moderator during this year’s Democratic primary was no different.
- “Gwen was a role model and an example to countless African-American journalists covering politics and elections. She demonstrated how this important work could be done with the highest of standards. She will be missed.”
This is the full report posted by PBS at 2:25 p.m. Monday:
“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we must share that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away this afternoon following several months of cancer treatment. She was surrounded by loving family and many friends whom we ask that you keep in your thoughts and prayers.
- “A note from Sara Just, PBS NewsHour executive producer and WETA SVP
- “’Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change. 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.
- “’So many people in the audience felt that they knew and adored her. She had a tremendous combination of warmth and authority. She was stopped on the street routinely by people who just wanted to give her a hug and considered her a friend after years of seeing her on TV.
- “’We will forever miss her terribly.”