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 and director has been acclaimed by audiences in the US and worldwide. He is founder and artistic director of Junebug Productions, the organizational successor to the Free Southern Theater, of which O’Neal was also a co-founder and director. He was a field secretary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and worked as National Field Program Director with the Committee for Racial Justice.
O’Neal has written eighteen plays, a musical comedy, and a substantial body of poetry and essays. He has numerous credits as an actor and has toured widely in the character of Junebug Jabbo Jones, a mythic figure who symbolizes the wisdom of common people, which was created by people involved in SNCC. O’Neal has been a leader in the field of artists working in community and for social justice. His ColorLine Project, a multi-year story collecting and performance event about the Civil Rights Movement, received the prestigious Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Award.
He has won numerous other honors, including the Award of Merit from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the United States Artists Award. His current initiative, the Free Southern Theatre Institute, an educational program and artists’ laboratory focused on theatre for social change, is scheduled to open in 2010.