City leaders unveiled the new “Hometown Heroes” banner Monday on the downtown River City Bank building honoring Alberta Jones, the pioneering attorney and civil rights leader whose life was tragically cut short at 34 years old in 1965.
Jones was the first African-American woman to pass the Kentucky bar exam and the first female prosecutor in the state, also leading an organization she founded to register thousands of African-American voters and push through integration in Louisville. Jones was also the first attorney of Muhammad Ali and negotiated his first professional boxing contract in 1960.
Shortly after becoming a prosecutor in 1965, Jones was abducted from her car, beaten and thrown off the Sherman Minton Bridge to her death. Her murder remains unsolved to this day, though the Louisville Metro Police Department announced last year that it was reopening the cold case due to possible new leads. Jones’ story was featured on the front page of The New York Times three weeks ago, and in The Washington Post published a large article about her Monday morning.
Mayor Greg Fischer gave a city proclamation honoring Jones to her 81-year old sister Flora Shanklin — who helped lead the fundraising effort for the banner — saying that Jones should be remembered by all as an inspiration and “a fearless fighter for justice and opportunity.”