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Murder at Broad River Bridge: The Slaying of Lemuel Penn by the Ku Klux Klan by Bill Shipp

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On July 11, 1964, Lemuel Penn, a forty-nine-year-old father of three children and assistant superintendent of the Washington, D.C., schools was driving home with two other African-American army reservists from training at Fort Benning, Georgia. They were approaching the Broad River Bridge that separates Madison County, Georgia, from Elbert County. Shortly after 4:00 a.m. three local members of the Ku Klux Klan overtook Penn’s vehicle and shot a fatal shotgun blast into Penn’s face. This book tells the story of that murder and the acquittal of the perpetrators of it. The defense attorney for the accused Klansmen argued that Klan violence benefitted the white community and that jurors needed to protect “the Southern Way of Life” from federal government interference. It took the jury three hours to acquit. First published in 1981 by Peachtree Publishers, this is a reprint with a new foreword by Renee Romano, a history professor at Oberlin College and the author of three books on the Civil Rights Movement. She argues that this book “can help show us that it takes commitment and political work to make sure that the criminal justice system treats everyone equally. It is an on-going and vital project. ““A concise, well written account . . . Shipp argues persuasively that at this time southern justice was uneven at best and that the Klan exercised enormous, often violent, influence in that area” - Library Journal. Bill Shipp, the author covered southern politics and government for more than five decades first for the Atlanta Constitution and then for Bill Shipp’s Georgia.

Athens: University of Georgia Press, a 2017 new edition of a 1981 release. 94 pages with a new foreword by Renee C. Romano, Suggested Reading, and photos. Trade paperback