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Conversation with Judge Olly Neal Jr.

This program will be available as a Zoom webinar as well as simulcast on Facebook Live. To join via Zoom you must register

About this Legacies & Lunch Presentation

Born in 1941 on a farm near Marianna, Arkansas, Olly Neal Jr. grew up in a large family with parents who insisted on their children getting a good education. Neal had the intellect but not the temperament to be a good student in high school, but a teacher took an interest in him when she saw him steal a book rather than risk his tough-guy reputation if someone saw him checking it out. Neal went on to start and lead the Lee County Cooperative Clinic in Marianna during the 1970s, a turbulent time fraught with conflicts between the white power structure and black citizens seeking their civil rights and increased economic opportunities. He became the first black district prosecuting attorney in Arkansas, and then served as a circuit court judge and on the Arkansas Court of Appeals. His road to success was not a smooth one, and Neal tells his unique story with humor, candor, and hard-earned wisdom, explaining his rocky journey from hardscrabble beginnings in rural Lee County to the role of prosecutor to the judicial bench. In weekly conversations over several years, Neal told the story of his life to his friend and former colleague Jan Wrede, who captured his words and shaped them into what became his autobiography, OUTSPOKEN.
Butler Center Books published OUTSPOKEN: The Olly Neal Story this spring. Books are available from online retailers, including the University of Arkansas Press at https://www.uapress.com/product/outspoken/, and local book sellers.
About the Speakers
Olly Neal Jr., a courageous activist for social and political change, led the Lee County Cooperative Clinic through its contentious founding years in the 1970s, directed the National Demonstration Water Project, and championed public health in the Delta. He participated in major voting rights litigation, became the first black district prosecuting attorney in Arkansas, and served as a notable circuit and appellate court judge. He lives in Little Rock with his wife, Karen Buchanan.
Jan Wrede, a high school science teacher, was one of the VISTA health advocates who devised the plan for an outpatient clinic in Lee County, Arkansas, in the 1970s. Later, she became an environmental educator and writer with two books published by the Texas A&M University Press. She lives in Boerne, Texas, with her husband, Jerry McFarlen.
About Legacies & Lunch

Legacies & Lunch is a free monthly program of CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies about Arkansas-related topics. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Legacies & Lunch will be available on Facebook Live.