— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) November 15, 2016
On Monday, the world felt another gut punch when veteran journalist Gwen Ifill passed away from complications due to uterine cancer. Many tributes from colleagues filled the airwaves, but Don Lemon’s emotional sendoff will have anyone misting up alongside the CNN host. Lemon described the first time he met Ifill and how she helped him begin his career in broadcast journalism, and his words really do stand on their own:
“I first met Gwen at a National Association of Black Journalists Convention in the mid 1990s when I was trying to become an on-air reporter. The woman who I had watched, admired, and loved from afar agreed to critique my first demo tape. I hung onto her every word. Now I have a few words for her … Gwen, you were a black woman who thrived in this brutal business dominated by mostly men. You transcended race and gender. You were simply brilliant and powerful, a quiet storm, professional, understated, humble. I won’t give your age because I was taught to never tell or ask a lady’s age. And I won’t say goodbye … because goodbyes are so hard, but I will say … so long, and thank you.”
As Lemon mentions, Ifill’s accomplishments are so voluminous that to list them all would be an impossible feat. The most recognizable ones can be found in obituaries across the airwaves right now, but the most striking aspect of her passing is how her fellow journalists are remembering her — with emotions flowing — in an on-air capacity. Now, she’s become part of the news that they’re reporting, and their loss is palpable, but that’s how they choose to remember Ifill, as she lived.