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Your remembrances of Gwen Ifill

November 15, 2016 at 6:20 PM EST
Tributes have flooded in since Gwen Ifill's death Monday, from those remembering her contributions to journalism to the impact she had on their own lives.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally tonight: Since the news of Gwen Ifill’s death, we have received a flood of responses from those remembering her contributions to journalism and to their own lives.

We end with some of those, and some of Gwen’s own thoughts on journalism.

GWEN IFILL: There’s information to be had, facts to share, solutions to discover, but you have to look up.

There is time we have, time we lack, and the ability to take advantage of both. The clock is on the wall, but you have to look up. That means there are risks to be taken.

WOMAN: I am Martha from Oregon.

I am mourning the passing of your colleague and, I suspect, dear friend Gwen Ifill. I never had the privilege of meeting Gwen in person, but I still looked forward to welcoming her into my home via TV many nights each week.

She was such a perceptive and thoughtful journalist. Her insights into the background of an event, what had already happened and what might still happen, and always delivered with an optimistic outlook, that was just what we Americans needed.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Gwen was a friend of ours. She was an extraordinary journalist.

(APPLAUSE)

GWEN IFILL: You can be the person who turns toward, not away, from the chance to rise above the fray. And you can be the person who trains yet another generation to do better at it than you did.

WOMAN: My name is Barbara from Lakeville, Connecticut.

My husband and I, both retired, are regular viewers of the “NewsHour.” I write this note with tears in my eyes at the passing of a beautiful woman who contributed so much to my understanding of the world.

Our deepest sympathies to all who knew her. She will be greatly missed. She will forever be a role model for not just journalists, but for all young women.

GWEN IFILL: I tell this to young people all the time. Rather than going around saying, aha, they didn’t give this to me because I was black or I was a woman, you stop and think, they didn’t give it to me because they couldn’t imagine me in this role.

And it’s my job then — it’s a tougher job than my white counterparts have, but it’s just what it is. My job is to force them to see me in a different role. And then you act on that.

It’s important to be reminded how easily we can be denied simple, obvious opportunities, how low the ceilings can get and how much fortitude it takes to refuse to accept the limits that others place on you.

But you now have the skills to transcend those limits. Whose stories can you tell? Whose voices are not being heard? Who gets to decide which stories and voices get ignored? And what are you willing to do about it?

MAN: This is Michael from Texarkana, Texas.

I’m so saddened to hear of the loss of Ms. Ifill. She has counseled me and explained current events to me for about 15 years. I haven’t been able to face much of the news and the analysis this past week, but I thought, when I was ready to get back in it, she would help me make sense of it all.

SEN. HARRY REID, Minority Leader: It really was too bad that she died at age 61, a woman who was really someone who broke barriers. Every step of her life was something new and something inspirational for those around her. I watch as often as I can the “NewsHour,” and I will miss her.

GWEN IFILL: We live in a world of extremes, often petty argument, where we hide behind our devices to insult one another in a way we would never do face to face.

Technology is fabulous, but this is not what it is for. We have to harness our thinking and our expressions to add to the debates around us, not to debase them.

MAN: This is Perry from California.

Her family and colleagues have lost such a talented and principled woman. How sad that we lost her during a time of such upheaval, when her skills are needed more than ever.

GWEN IFILL: Cynics thinks that they know all the answers already, and then they stop listening.

Skeptics always have more questions to ask, but we are willing to be persuaded to the honesty of an alternate point of view, even if we don’t share it.

Is it possible to be skeptical and optimistic and ambitious, open, excited to possibility and willing to change the world as well? I think so.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We want to give you a chance to share your memories of Gwen.

You can call the number below, 703-594-6727, and you can leave us a message with your thoughts.

Online, you can read many of the comments we have already received.

Also online, we have gathered some of Gwen’s words and interviews in our final edition of Gwen’s Take.

All that and more is our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

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