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People and Places

Faculty and Staff


John O'Neal
Lecturer, Playwriting 
BA, Southern Illinois University


Since 1963, John O'Neal has been a leading advocate of the view that "politics" and "art" are complementary, not opposing terms. His work as a writer, performer, educator and director has taken him to audiences throughout North America and to Europe. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Junebug Productions, which is the organizational successor to the Free Southern Theater of which O'Neal was also a co-founder and director. O'Neal was a Field Secretary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and worked as an organizer with the United Church of Christ Committee for Racial Justice. O'Neal has authored more than 20 plays, several essays, and poetry. He has numerous credits as an actor and has toured widely in the mythic character of Junebug Jabbo Jones, which was created by people involved in SNCC to symbolize the wisdom of common people.

John has been a leader in the field of artists who work in communities of oppressed and exploited African Americans and others who are similarly situated. John has won twice the Louisiana Artists Fellowship for playwriting and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Playwriting. He also received the Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award (with colleague Theresa Holden for their work on the Color Line Project), the USArtists Foundation Fellowship in support of his writing work. He has published numerous articles, essays, poetry plays and is currently at work on a soon to be published volume of collected plays.

O'Neal is recently retired from the post of Artistic Director of Junebug Productions which he has held since founding the organization in 1980. Upon his retirement, the distinguished actor, writer, educator and director was honored with the title of Artistic Director Emeritus.


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