Longtime Atlanta journalist Bill Shipp as editor of the University of Georgia student newspaper in 1953 (left) and at his home office in Acworth, Ga., in 2016 (right). Shipp died in July 2023. Credit: GPB

Bill Shipp, born in Marietta, Ga., on Aug. 16, 1933, died Saturday at age 89.

Shipp was student editor of the University of Georgia’s The Red and Black newspaper and went on to a celebrated career at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where — as the paper said in its obituary for Shipp — he amused and “tormented politicians for more than half a century with his acid-dipped pen.”

He covered Southern politics and government for more than five decades and was a member of the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame and the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame.

Shipp spoke with GPB in 2016, 55 years after UGA accepted its first African-American students. Shipp resigned his student editor position at The Red and Black after a Black student was denied entry to UGA’s law school. He went on to cover some of the biggest stories of the civil rights era, from the integration of Ole Miss to the murder of a Georgia Army reservist by Ku Klux Klan days after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. 

He published two books: 1981’s Murder at Broad River Bridge: The Slaying of Lemuel Penn by Members of the Ku Klux Klan, a nonfiction account of the 1964 murder of Penn and 1997’s The Ape-Slayer and Other Snapshots, a collection of essays.

The story comes to Rough Draft via a media partnership with GPB News.

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