As teenagers, John and his sister would have a party every year for their friends on Christmas Eve. In 1969, members of their community learned that some of the kids attending the party that year were black. When John's father, who was a Baptist Minister at the time, was asked by members of the church to keep his children from having the party, he refused. That night, the Shipp house was riddled with bullets, but thankfully nobody was hurt. John's father, however, was fired the next day. Thirty years later, the community issued a public apology to his father and presented him with the key to the city.