'Hometown Hero' banner honors first black woman to pass Kentucky - WDRB 41 Louisville News

'Hometown Hero' banner honors first black woman to pass Kentucky Bar

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city of Louisville honored civil rights icon Alberta Jones on Monday with her own "Hometown Hero" banner.

Jones was the first black woman to pass the Kentucky Bar and the victim of a 52-year-old cold case murder.

"This one hangs where people can pass by and see it," said Flora Shanklin, Jones' sister.

The banner hangs on the side of the River City Bank building at the corner of Sixth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

"Alberta got involved in a lot of other things and civil rights," Shanklin said. "Her thing was trying to make sure that black people had equal opportunities."

Jones was the first black woman to pass the Kentucky Bar and the state's first female prosecutor. Jones even represented Muhammad Ali and helped register voters in the 1960s.

"She rented voters machines to show them how they could ... don't have to vote straight ticket," Shanklin said.

But that work may have led to her death.

In 1965, she was beaten and thrown into the Ohio River off the Sherman Minton Bridge..

"In my heart, I knew something was wrong," Shanklin said.

The murder has remained a mystery despite a suspect and a fingerprint.

"I know he and probably two of his friends had something to do with it," Shanklin said.

Several years ago, Dr. Lee Remington, an attorney and a professor at Bellarmine University, started doing research on Jones and the case.

"I just remember being incredulous and asking around about here," Remington said. "She's the most important legal female figure in our state."

Remington wants to bring awareness and educate the public about Jones' career, legacy and death.

"At the very least, she deserves recognition for all of her accomplishments," he said.

On Monday afternoon, some of that recognition arrived.

"Our city celebrates an incredible life and the many contributions of Alberta, one of our hometown's greatest heroes," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Surrounded by several Metro Council members including Mary Woolridge, Dr. Barbara Shanklin, Barbara Sexton-Smith and Cheri Bryant Hamilton, Jones' family and several high profile members of the legal community Fischer said the search for justice will continue.

"LMPD has recently reopen their investigation of her tragic murder," he said.

More than 50 years later, Shanklin is excited about the banner, but she wants justice even more.

"It would be nice to have both," she said.

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