New Orleans, LA
John O’Neal is a playwright, actor, and stage director. He received a BA from Southern Illinois University in 1962. Upon graduation, O’Neal became Field Secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, establishing the Free Southern Theater (FST) in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963. Founded as the cultural arm of the Civil Rights Movement, the FST toured to predominantly rural, black neighborhoods. In 1965, it moved its base of operations to New Orleans, continuing its touring company, running community engagement programs and a training workshop in black theater. FST closed in 1980, and O’Neal founded Junebug Productions.