Alberta O. Jones Park opens in the California neighborhood
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The first phase of Alberta O. Jones Park is now open in the California neighborhood.
The park is complete with a music-themed playground, picnic pavilion, performance shelter, outdoor exercise space, and even Wi-Fi access.
Once completed, the park will take up 20-acres. It was designed by the Louisville Parks Alliance after surveying California neighborhood residents about what they wanted to prioritize.
“We are committed to forging alliances to address the deep disparities that prevent too many in Louisville from having equitable access to great parks,” said Louisville Parks Alliance CEO Brooke Pardue at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday.
Alberta Jones was the first Black woman to pass the bar in Kentucky. During the civil rights movement, Jones led a campaign that forced Louisville’s city government to hire more Black employees. She also helped register thousands of Black voters.
In 1965, she was found murdered in Shawnee Park. To this day, her murder has never been solved.
“Her life ended way too early and she deserved so much better than she got in her lifetime,” said Mayor Craig Greenberg. “This park here today is just a small tribute that can reflect at least a portion of the gratitude that all of us here in Louisville owe to her for her contributions to our city and her state.”
Jones’ sister, Flora Shanklin, attended the ceremony. She describes Jones as a loving sister and daughter, who had a contagious laugh.
“I know that she’s smiling. I know my mom is smiling,” Shanklin said. “But her first words would be, because she was so modest, ‘what did I do to deserve this?’”
Shanklin says her sister was an incredibly giving person, who did everything from the heart.
“When she passed the bar, my mother was working part time and she called the people and told them she thanked them for giving her a job, but she was going to take care of my mother from that day on,” Shanklin said. “That was her.”
The park features a mural of Jones made of thousands of community photos and locations in the California neighborhood.
The pavilion features a quote from Jones’ diary. It reads “When I die and cross the way, no greater epitaph will be for some small child to say ‘Gee! She did a lot for me.’”
Shanklin says she’s happy to see her sister’s legacy live on and to know that families will continue to learn about her for generations to come.
“I’m very happy about that. That it won’t end with me. It won’t end with my children or grandchildren,” Shanklin said. “It’ll be lifelong, where other people will come along, other kids, other families.”
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