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Trailblazing American Journalist Gwen Ifill Dead at 61

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FILE - "NewsHour" co-anchor Gwen Ifill attends The Women's Media Center 2015 Women's Media Awards in New York, Nov. 5, 2015. Ifill died on Monday of cancer, PBS said. She was 61.

FILE - "NewsHour" co-anchor Gwen Ifill attends The Women's Media Center 2015 Women's Media Awards in New York, Nov. 5, 2015. Ifill died on Monday of cancer, PBS said. She was 61.

Gwen Ifill, one of the most prominent African-American journalists in the U.S., has died after battling cancer for months. She was 61.

Ifill joined PBS as the moderator of Washington Week, the public broadcaster's Sunday morning public affairs program, in 1999 and served as the show's managing editor. She was the first African-American woman to host a major political TV talk show. In 2013, she was named co-anchor and co-managing editor with Judy Woodruff of the weeknight evening news broadcast PBS NewsHour.

In 2009, she wrote a book about President Barack Obama, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.

"It is with extreme sadness that we share the news that Gwen Ifill passed away earlier today [Monday] surrounded by family and friends," PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement. "Gwen was one of America's leading lights in journalism and a fundamental reason public media is considered a trusted window on the world by audiences across the nation."

A native of New York City, Ifill joined PBS in 1999. Prior to joining PBS, Ifill worked as chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News, White House correspondent for the New York Times, and political reporter for The Washington Post.

She moderated the 2004 vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, and the 2008 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

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