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Nina Miglionico (1913 – 2009)
Nina Miglionico was born in Birmingham, Alabama on September 14, 1913, the child of Italian immigrants. Completing her undergraduate work at Howard College, now Samford University in 1933, she earned her law degree from the University of Alabama in 1936 at the age of 22. After failing to secure employment at an established firm, she started her own practice and was one of the first women in Alabama to do so.

She became active in many women’s organizations which were interested in women’s rights under the law. Among these were the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the American Association of University Women, Zonta International, a society of women in business, and the League of Women Voters. These organizations opposed existing inheritance laws which deprived married women of property rights, probate laws that nullified a woman’s will upon her marriage, and laws prohibiting women from serving on juries. In 1958 Nina became President of the National Association of Women Lawyers and in 1961 President Kennedy appointed her to serve on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

She established her political career by winning a seat on the inaugural Birmingham City Council and becoming the Council’s first female member. She served from 1963 to 1985, holding the office of President from 1978 to 1981. She was also the first woman to be President of the Alabama League of Municipalities.

Because Miglionico was an enthusiastic supporter of women’s rights and equality and held progressive views on race, she became a target for extremists. A bomb was placed on her front porch steps in 1965, which fortunately failed to detonate, and a cross was burned in her yard in 1974 during her campaign as the Democratic nominee for Congress. Both incidents were suspected to be the work of the Ku Klux Klan.

Over the years, Nina Miglionico received the Sam Pipes Award as outstanding alumnus of the University of Alabama School of Law, the Burton Barnes Award for Public Service from the Birmingham Bar Association, and the Maud McLure Kelly Award from the Women’s Section of the Alabama State Bar. The Women’s Section of the Birmingham Bar Association established the Nina Miglionico “Paving the Way” Leadership Award in her honor to recognize individuals for advocating and advancing the role of women in the legal profession. In 1996 she was recognized with the Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association as one of the 5 outstanding women lawyers in the United States. And in 2012 she was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.

Nina Miglionico died in Birmingham on May 6, 2009 at the age of 95. It is believed that she holds the distinction of being the longest practicing female attorney in the history of Alabama serving for a total of 73 years.

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