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Gwen Ifill, 61

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images for Meet The Press

One of the most successful black female journalists of her time, Ifill, the co-anchor of “PBS NewsHour,” broke barriers with her authoritative politics coverage.

"I was taught that the search for truth and the search for justice are not incompatible and are, in fact, essential. Diversity is essential to the success of the news industry, and journalists must include diverse voices in their coverage in order to reach a broader audience."

- Gwen Ifill

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Ifill, a pastor’s daughter with working-class roots, built her reputation as a graceful interviewer after getting her start in local news. At the time, she said, most newsrooms had “never seen anything like me — a college-educated black woman. And they didn’t know how to deal with me.”

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No stranger to racial discrimination, even in recent years, Ifill was relentless in addressing racial and gender controversies. In 2007, while moderating “Washington Week,” she took on Don Imus' charged comments to the players of Rutgers University women's basketball team.

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Ifill’s integrity, curiosity and substance won her respect in the political news sphere. President Barack Obama, who hosted her, along with “The Wire” actor Wendell Pierce, among his guests at a 2012 White House State Dinner, called Ifill an “especially powerful role model” who “did her country a great service.”

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