He was born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Philadelphia. Neal earned his bachelor's degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania during 1961 and his master's degree from the University in Pennsylvania in 1963.
Later, he taught at the City College of New York, Yale University, and Wesleyan University.
He made his greatest impact on African-American culture as a leader of the Black Arts Movement, which sought to blend together black art and politics into an indivisible entity.
Neal supported black aesthetic perspectives on the purpose of black creative expression namely, that African-American literature should function as a political weapon created for and by black people.
Alongside Amari Baraka and others, he helped to establish the Black Arts Repertory theater in Harlem during 1961.
Also, he served as artist editor and contributing writer for Liberator, a magazine known to focus on radical political and cultural issues of the time.
Neal collaborated with many prominent black writers during the black arts movement.
- Black fire: An Anthology of Afro–American writing: was coedited by Neal and Baraka
- Trippin: A Need for Change is another collaboration co-authored by Neil, the rapper, and A. B. Spelman
His first volume of poetry entitled, Black Boogaloo, explores his:
"fascination with discovering the historical moment when Africans lost their connection with their gods and ancestors, thereby losing themselves."
"a poetic interpretation of the hopes and aspirations of black artist and the middle class on the eve of the dropping of the a Dash bomb on Hiroshima."
"circular and therefore hopeless quality"
Neal also worked on the small screen as a host for a black talk shows and a script writer in the 1960s.
Visions of a Liberated Future, a collection of his poetry and prose, was published posthumously during 1989.
The following delves deeper into "The Black Arts Movement," which was originally published in The Drama Review during 1968; Neal presents his plan for the black aesthetic and the black arts movement, as he critiques the value of specific literary pieces by black authors: