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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Remembering a mudered civil rights pioneer

Alberta Jones
Upon finding out about an article from Very Smart Bros I also found this article from the New York Times which I will share with you today.
I want to say, how very sorry I had been about finally discover this. A young black woman Alberta Jones an attorney was beaten and thrown into the Ohio River and left to drown in August 1965. Why was she murdered? She came back to Louisville, Kentucky to shake things up after graduating from the Howard University Law School. Shaking things up was certainly a dangerous thing to do back then especially in the segregated south.
Alberta Jones is the civil rights pioneer almost no one knows. She was Louisville’s first female black prosecutor and negotiated the first fight contract for Muhammad Ali, her neighbor. She registered thousands of African-American voters in the 1960s and paved the way for a ban on racial discrimination by local theaters and lunch counters.
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Ms. Jones’s name is absent from the annals of civil rights martyrs of the 1960s, perhaps because there is no clear evidence that her death was racially or politically motivated. Louisville, on the dividing line between North and South, largely avoided the harshest violence of the era, like church bombings and the murder of civil rights workers by white supremacists, and today does not have the immediate resonance of, say, Birmingham, Ala.

Still, the city Ms. Jones returned to in 1959 after graduating from Howard University School of Law was deeply segregated. Blacks could not enter movie theaters or restaurants in the city’s commercial heart, Fourth Street, or try on clothes at department stores.

Ms. Jones helped establish the Independent Voters Association, which registered 6,000 African-Americans. Voting as a bloc, blacks replaced the mayor of Louisville and many of the city’s aldermen in 1961. Two years later these officials outlawed racial discrimination in businesses, the first public accommodation ordinance of its kind in the South.

“We taught the Negros how to use that voting machine,” Ms. Jones told The Courier-Journal in March 1965. It was shortly after she became a city prosecutor, the first woman of any race in that job in Louisville. “When I got back home a lot of people said, ‘You’ve got two strikes against you: You’re a woman and you’re a Negro,’” she told the newspaper. “Yeah, but I’ve still got one strike left, and I’ve seen people get home runs when all they’ve got left is one strike.”

Ms. Jones lived in Louisville’s majority-black West End with her mother and sister, just a couple of blocks from the young Cassius Clay. In 1960, the future Muhammad Ali hired her to represent him when he turned professional. She negotiated a contract with 11 white millionaires, the famous Louisville Sponsoring Group. Protective of her client, she insisted that 15 percent of his winnings be held in trust until he turned 35, with Ms. Jones serving as a co-trustee. Today the contract hangs on the wall of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.
I sincerely hope that after over 50 years that Ms. Jones will finally get justice for her murder. Unfortunately she gave her life fighting for the civil rights of Blacks in Louisville. And this article illustrates that investigators are continuing to look for her killers. Unfortunately the passage of time has made that very difficult.
On the night Ms. Jones was murdered, Aug. 5, 1965, witnesses saw two black males drag a screaming woman into the back seat of a car like the Ford Fairlane Ms. Jones was driving, according to police records. Her body, with trauma to the head and face, was retrieved from the river near an amusement park in the West End. A large quantity of blood stained the back seat of the Fairlane, discovered nearby, which she had rented while her own car was in the shop.

Ms. [Flora] Shanklin believes that whoever murdered her sister was paid by others. “I don’t know who, but she stepped on some toes,” she said.
There has been some breaks and some connections to this murder. A print was matched to someone who is an elderly man now but was only 17 back then. Regardless hopefully there will be justice for Jones, however, steps are being taken to recognize her contributions:
Next month a Louisville civic group plans to hang a giant banner with Ms. Jones’s portrait on a bank building on Muhammad Ali Boulevard. It will join other portraits downtown honoring prominent people with Louisville roots, including Diane Sawyer and Colonel Harland Sanders of fast-food fame.

Professor Remington hopes the banner will prick someone’s memory — or conscience — about what happened to Ms. Jones 52 years ago. “She spent her whole life fighting for others,” she said. “It’s time somebody started fighting for her.”
I'm a long way from Louisville, Kentucky which is about five hours away from Chicago - yes I know this thanks to the many trip taken on the Greyhound through the city and with layovers. Hopefully someone will fight for her.

As you read this article you noticed she represents the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali right. There was an angle to Ms. Jones' murder involved the Nation of Islam. Ali was at one point associated with them.

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