From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Jones, Alberta O.

(born: 1930  -  died: 1965) 

Alberta Odell Jones was born in Louisville, KY, the third child of Sarah (Sadie) Frances Crawford Jones and Odell Jones. She was also a first cousin of Raymond Ponder.

During her brief life, Alberta was at the forefront of change in Kentucky and Louisville. She was one of the first African American women to pass the Kentucky Bar (1959) and the first woman prosecutor in Kentucky (1964). [Sally J. Seals White was the first African American woman admitted to the Kentucky Bar.]

Jones was the prosecutor in the Louisville Domestic Relations Court; her law office was located at 2018 W. Broadway. [James A. Crumlin, Sr. was the assistant prosecutor.] She was Cassius Clay's [Muhammad Ali's] first attorney, taking him to California to be trained under Archie Moore.

Jones was also a civil rights activist: in addition to participating in the March on Washington and the marches in Louisville, she rented voting machines and held classes to teach African Americans how to vote for the candidates of their choice. She established the Independent Voters Association and was an active member of the Louisville Urban League and the NAACP.

Jones also established the James "Bulky" Welch Fund,  holding a fund-raiser by raffling off a car to pay Welch's medical bills and purchase the prosthetic arms to replace the ones young Welch had lost trying to retrieve his dog from under a train.

Alberta Jones was a graduate of Louisville Central High School and attended the Louisville Municipal College for Negroes. When the college was merged with the University of Louisville (U of L) during desegregation, Jones continued her education at U of L and graduated third in her class. She was accepted into the University of Louisville Law School but transferred after the first year to Howard University School of Law, where she graduated fourth in her class. A picture of Alberta O. Jones hangs in the U of L Law School.

Jones was a member of the American Bar Association, the Fall City Bar Association, and the Louisville Bar Association, serving as secretary of the latter. She was also a member of the Eta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta and the Sigma Chapter of Iota Phi Lambda.

Alberta O. Jones was murdered in August of 1965 -- the case has not been solved.

This information was submitted by Alberta Jones's niece, Ms. Nicole M. Martin, and Jones's sister, Ms. Flora Lutisha Shanklin.

For more see "Alberta Jones' funeral rites held; unsolved murders alarm West Enders," The Louisville Defender, 8/12/1965, front page and p. 6; and Legacy of Leadership: African American Pioneers in Kentucky Law (video-recording), by the University of Louisville School of Law.

For follow-ups concerning Alberta Jones's murder, see  DeNeen L. Brown, "Who killed Alberta Jones, Louisvilleā€™s first black female prosecutor?" , October 9, 2017, online in The Washington Post; "Inside Investigations: Who Killed Alberta Jones?" online at the WHAS11 website; and "Alumna pushes for more investigation into death of civi rights leader, online at the Louis D. Bradeis School of Law website.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Jones, Alberta O.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 16, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-07-07 17:59:17