Journalist Gwen Ifill’s life was celebrated on Saturday at the historic Metropolitan AME Church in downtown Washington. Michelle Obama, and former Attorney General Eric Holder were among mourners who recalled Gwen as a standard bearer, cherished friend, devoted mentor and woman of abiding faith.
“She wasn’t Gwen the national figure, but Gwen the sistah, S-I-S-T-A-H,” he said. “The sistah with fascinating stories, with funny jokes and juicy off-the-record observations better known as gossip.”
The two had bonded over their shared connection to Barbados and took to calling each other “cuz,” imagining they might be distant cousins through ancestors on the Caribbean island. When Eric Holder had to sit down with his “cuz” in his position as Attorney General, he realized that the fun-loving woman from the weekends had “transformed.”
“My dear Gwen, unexpectedly to me, went from ‘cuz’ to newsperson,” Mr. Holder said. “She was fair, but she was piercing, serious but unfailingly nice, smiling the whole time as she forced me out of my prescribed talking points.”
Mr. Holder told his story and read a letter from President Obama in front of thousands of mourners who gathered for nearly three hours Saturday for Ms. Ifill’s funeral.
Ms. Ifill’s father was an A.M.E. minister and her family was deeply religious, as well as committed to watching the news to keep up with current affairs.
Ms. Ifill joins Frederick Douglass with a pew named after her at Metropolitan AME African Methodist Episcopal Church.
I should also note the church where Ifill’s funeral was held, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, was a former haven to runaway slaves. Ms. Ifill had worshipped there since 1989,