By Maria Saporta
Memories die hard.
Longtime Atlanta political journalist Bill Shipp is donating all his papers to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia.
As a gesture of appreciation, the University of Georgia Libraries held a lunch this week at the Blue Ridge Grill celebrating Shipp’s commitment to donate his collection of papers.
The lunch stirred up memories of when Shipp attended UGA in the early 1950s.
Shipp became managing editor of the Red and Black, the UGA student newspaper, in the fall of 1953. He wrote an article about how UGA was opening up a new $2 million library on campus.
A week later, Shipp wrote a column urging the University of Georgia to admit its first African-American student — Horace Ward — followed by several other columns and editorials on the same topic.
Shipp was particularly critical of Gov. Herman Talmadge’s decision to bar Horace Ward’s enrollment at UGA, and the university determined that Shipp needed faculty supervision through the remainder of the year, according to Bill Potter, director of UGA Libraries.
“When I asked Gov. Herman Talmadge to resign as governor, that began my military career,” Shipp said, remembering when a UGA faculty member told him he needed to find something else to do. “They were telling me to leave.”
A host of Shipp’s closest friends and associates came to the luncheon — former Gov. Roy Barnes, Hal Gulliver, George Berry, Buddy and Lillian Darden, Bert Lance, Neely Young, Susan Percy, Barbara Shaw, Bobby Kahn, among others.
During the lunch, Shipp made brief comments about his donation.
“If my papers are worth anything at all, I believe the most interesting section may be the ‘mad-as-hell’ mail I received over the years,” Shipp said. “Some of the authors of those fire-breathing missives threatened to do me bodily harm, burn my house down or even call in my loans. They also reveal something else — the fears, prejudices and hopes of our time. For that reason, I think or I hope historians will find them of some value in the decades ahead.”
Potter said the paper will be housed in UGA’s new library, currently under construction. The $46 million facility is scheduled to open in September, 2011.