I found out about the death of Gwen Ifill earlier today by accident. I was driving and heard the new text message 'ding' on my cell phone, but I did not see the Hub's text; instead, I saw that someone had reposted an old link from the Busy Black Woman Facebook page with an "RIP" tag...
So I broke the law to look at my phone since someone had actually reposted one of my old links! And then I spent the rest of my drive trying to process my disbelief.
Can I just start with the announcement that 2016 has about six weeks left and there are several beloved famous, well-known folks we need to check in with, just to make sure that they know before it is too late that we love and appreciate them? And then there is everyone else whom we actually know that need to be told, right now before another shoe drops, that we love and appreciate them.
Because I did NOT see this coming.
I did not know Gwen Ifill personally. This being DC with about two degrees of separation among black people, I knew people who knew her. I never had the pleasure. I had a neighbor who knew her. I did a stint at the organization currently run by her cousin. She was my Soror and I attended her initiation. I followed her on Twitter and I occasionally watched her on the News Hour.
I may not have known Gwen Ifill, but I mourn her passing. In fact, I am totally blown.
Because I did not know her and did not have a chance to watch the entire "Evening with Gwen Ifill" rebroadcast that my Dad is DVRing for me, I can only say that my emotional reaction is akin to the sudden death of Tim Russert eight years ago in the midst of the 2008 election. Every now and then, I wonder how Russert would have moderated a particular debate, especially this year when it seemed that a certain person was allowed to say just about anything without ANY serious follow-up or challenge to its veracity. And I place Gwen Ifill in that same pantheon of take-no-shit-from-professional-BSers, which is why her absence due to illness during this election cycle was indeed noticed.
I do not have much else to say because I just considered her to be decent, polished, insightful, witty, and always prepared. I have written several of these quick remembrances this year for various people and it is getting to me because with each memorial, the loss seems more personal. I may not have known Gwen Ifill, but I did. She was a Busy Black Woman icon.