Trailblazing African American prosecutor receives one of last Lo - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Trailblazing African American prosecutor receives one of last Louisville Hometown Hero banners

Alberta Jones was honored with a Louisville Hometown Hero banner Monday. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Alberta Jones was honored with a Louisville Hometown Hero banner Monday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Flora Shanklin nominated her sister Alberta for a banner. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Flora Shanklin nominated her sister Alberta for a banner. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Since 2002, banners of famous Louvillians like Muhammad Ali, Colonel Sanders, Diane Sawyer, and Jennifer Lawrence have gone up around the city.

On Monday one of the last banners was unveiled. It honors Alberta Jones.

Alberta Jones was the first African American woman to pass the Kentucky Bar Exam and the first woman of any race to become a prosecutor in the state of Kentucky.

Jones served as Muhammad Ali's attorney when he still went by Cassius Clay. She negotiated his first contract.

She was also a civil rights leader, integrating metro government and registering thousands of black voters.

In 1965, she was murdered.

Her body was discovered near the Shawnee Park boat ramp. She had been beaten unconscious and drowned.

The case was never solved.

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But recently, the Louisville Metro Police Department re-opened her murder investigation. Her sister hopes the banner will help bring justice.

"There are a lot of people who have never heard of her, but this may get her name out there," Flora Shanklin said.

Shanklin is Alberta' sister. Shanklin nominated her hero and sister to be honored on a banner.

For the past 16 years, 30 different groups have nominated people and raised thousands of dollars to have their heroes showcased.

"We are really lucky in Louisville that we don't have a shortage of hometown heroes," Rebecca Matheny of the Louisville Downtown Partnership said.

But Matheny says the campaign is running out of space.

"We really want people to be able to see it from the side of driving and since we don't have two-way streets that means we are limited," Matheny said.

The hometown heroes campaign was started as a non-profit. Mike Sheehy never thought the banner campaign would last 16 years. 

"It has run its course we have some other things we are thinking about doing," Sheehy said.

The banners currently hanging will not be taken down, and four more banners will be hung before the end of the campaign. They include Enid Yandell, a sculptress; Julius Friedman, an artist; and Thomas Merton, a religious leader.

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The fourth banner will be a tribute to Louisville-based fans.

"These banners are pictures," Matheny said. "They are very evocative. They are very iconic, but we have really considered the fact that we would like to give more information."

Alberta Jones' banner does not tell the story of her unsolved murder but Shanklin hopes the picture motivates the public to learn more about her older sister.

"I want people to know she was a good, generous-hearted person and what she got she did not deserve," Shanklin said.

Jones' banner hangs on the River City Bank building at the corner of 6th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

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