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Interview with Bill Shipp, March 20, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:25 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short, and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics, sponsored by the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Bob Short introduces interviewee Bill Shipp

00:00:53 - Early life / Education and early career

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Partial Transcript: Bill, you probably know more about Georgia politics than anyone I know.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp discusses his early life in Marietta, being kicked out of UGA after penning an editorial criticizing the Law School's decision not to admit an African-American student, and being hired at the Atlanta Constitution after returning from military service.

Keywords: African-Americans; Atlanta Constitution; Bill Fields; Civil Rights Movement; Civil rights; Desegregation; Editorial; Emory University; Football; General Assembly; Governor; H. Randolph Holder; Horace Ward; Integration; Journalism; Law School; Marietta High School; Marietta, Georgia; Military draft; The Pitchfork (school newspaper); The Red and Black; UGA; University of Georgia; Veteran; WGAU Radio

00:03:31 - Early interest in politics / Recollections of the Civil Rights Movement

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Partial Transcript: When did you first get interested in politics?

Segment Synopsis: Shipp recalls an interest in politics being piqued by watching a speech by Herman Talmadge as a child, and discusses some of the early events and players in the Civil Rights Movement, indicating that Georgia faced less strife relating to it than surrounding Southern states.

Keywords: Alabama; Albany, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Bill Kinney; Birmingham, Alabama; Business leadership; Campaign speech; Coca-Cola; Demonstrations; Enlightened white leadership; Eugene Talmadge; Ivan Allen Jr.; John Lewis; Lemuel Penn; Marietta Daily Journal; Martin Luther King Jr.; Martin Luther King Sr.; Mississippi; Murder; Oxford, Mississippi; Race relations; Racial strife; SCLC; SNCC; Selma, Alabama; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Speech impediment; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Town square; Voting Rights Act; Washington, D.C.

00:08:18 - Atlanta's leadership during the Civil Rights Movement

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember Mayor Hartsfield?

Segment Synopsis: Shipp comments on the roles that Atlanta mayor William Hartsfield, governor Ernest Vandiver, and other Georgia politicians played in the integration of Georgia's public institutions.

00:14:30 - Beginning of the New South

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Partial Transcript: Well, you and I grew up, Bill, in a period when Georgia was ruled by rural influences because of the county unit system.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp explains how the Civil Rights Movement made way for the repeal of the county unit system and introduction of The New South, led by the election of Carl E. Sanders.

Keywords: Black vote; Corruption; Democratic primary; Georgia politics; Inauguration; KKK; Ku Klux Klan; Lieutenant governor; Marvin Griffin; One Man, One Vote; Political moderate; Progressive; Public relations; Reconstruction; Segregationist; Status quo; Tennessee

00:18:55 - Jimmy Carter's election as governor

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Partial Transcript: Well, uh, Sanders subsequently lost an attempt for re-election in 1972 to Jimmy Carter.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp discusses the early political career of Jimmy Carter, whom he describes as a "brilliant politician."

Keywords: Atlanta Constitution; Capitol City Club; Kennedy family; King & Spalding; Lead voters; Mitt Romney; Peanut farming; Presidential campaign; Primary

00:21:22 - Reapportionment / African-Americans in the Georgia legislature

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Partial Transcript: Another development that, uh, more modernized government in Georgia was reapportionment of the congressional and legislative seats.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp speaks about apportionment's impact on state politics, including paving the way for the state to elect its first African-American candidates; he also briefly discusses the legacy of former governor Lester Maddox.

Keywords: Arch-segregationist; Black population; Civil Rights Act; Department of Justice; Discrimination; Ellis Arnall; Emanuel County, Georgia; General Assembly; George L. Smith; Horace Ward; Julian Bond; Leroy Johnson; Lyndon Johnson; Mechanized farms; Minorities; Newt Gingrich; Population shift; Republicans; Rural Georgia; Speaker of the House; Special districts; Special election; State senator; Suburban Georgia; Swainsboro, Georgia; Taxpayers; Term limits; The Pickrick restaurant; UNC; University System Committee; University of North Carolina; Urban Georgia; White flight

00:30:02 - Implementation of the educational lottery

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Partial Transcript: Another great point, Bill, that I think that helped Georgia was the passage of the lottery bill.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp discusses the benefits of the HOPE scholarship, implemented during the governorship of Zell Miller.

Keywords: Baptists; Gambling; Georgia educational lottery; HOPE scholarship; Higher Education; Horse racing; Joe Frank Harris; Paramutual betting; Preschool; Referendum; Scholarships; State treasury; Tom Murphy; Young Harris College; Zell Miller

00:32:33 - The rise of the Republican party / Reflections on prominent Democrats

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Partial Transcript: Bill, another development of note has been the rise of a second party in Georgia after 137 years of domination of the Democrats...

Segment Synopsis: Shipp describes Georgia's move from a Democratic stronghold to a Republican state and speaks about some of the prominent Democrats who preceded the shift.

Keywords: "The boys from the Boondocks"; Alcoholism; Augusta Courier; Communists; Confederate emblem; David Gambrell; Equal opportunity; Eugene Talmadge; Georgia state flag; Herman Talmadge; Hookworm; Liberalism; Liberals; Lockheed Martin; Marvin Griffin; Military base; Military contract; Perry, Georgia; Raconteur; Richard B. Russell; Richard Nixon; Rickets; Roy Barnes; Roy Harris; Sam Nunn; Sonny Purdue; Wally Butts; Watergate committee

00:40:39 - Herman Talmadge's governorship

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back to, uh, that--I guess, 1966 election.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp discusses the less-than-honest methods used to appoint Herman Talmadge into office following his father's death.

Keywords: Ballot boxes; Ed "E.D." Rivers; Jekyll Island, Georgia; Melvin Thompson; Taliaferro County, Georgia; Voter fraud; Write-in vote

00:44:20 - Georgia politics in the 1970s and 1980s

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Partial Transcript: Moving to 1980, uh, a very significant election in Georgia...

Segment Synopsis: Shipp summarizes some of the notable campaigns and tenures of politicians in the state in the 1970s and 1980s.

Keywords: Bert Lance; Department of Human Resources; Highway director; Jim Gillis; Jimmy Bentley; Lieutenant governor; Mack Mattingly; Public Health Department; Senate reprimand; St. Simons Island, Georgia; State Welfare Department; State comptroller

00:52:44 - Georgia's governors in the 1970s and 80s / Speaker of the House Tom Murphy

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Partial Transcript: Well, I want to get to his presidential race because I know you were very much involved in that, but succeeding Carter was George Busbee.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp compares the careers of former governors Busbee and Harris, and comments on Speaker of the House Tom Murphy.

00:58:39 - Georgia's governors in the 1990s / Party-switchers

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Partial Transcript: Well, then, uh, then Joe Frank leaves office and we get back to Zell Miller's long political career.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp describes the governorships of Miller, Barnes, and Purdue, and discusses Miller's appointment to Senator by Barnes following the death of Sen. Paul Coverdell.

01:07:29 - Newt Gingrich's political tenure

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Partial Transcript: Well, any discussion of Georgia politics must include Newt Gingrich.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp recalls the election and congressional career of Newt Gingrich.

Keywords: Contract for America; Editorial writers; Endorsement; Government shutdown; Jack Flynt; Jack Kemp; Majority whip; Minority whip; Sex scandal; Term limits; Virginia Shepard

01:10:11 - Chambliss v. Cleland / Election of Johnny Isakson

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk a minute about the race between Senator Max Cleland and Saxby Chambliss.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp speaks about the defeat of Cleland by Chambliss, which he attributes to negative campaigning, and briefly comments on Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Keywords: Cobb County, Georgia; Conservatives; Lobbying; Lobbyist; Osama bin Laden; Tea Party; Television spots; Traitor; Vietnam veteran; Vietnam war

01:12:54 - Career after the AJC / Career highlights

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's get back now to Bill Shipp.

Segment Synopsis: Shipp describes his move to online journalism following his departure from the AJC and mentions some notable career moments.

01:16:58 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well, have we forgotten anything, Bill?

Segment Synopsis: Short and Shipp conclude the interview.