Neal was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Lincoln University in 1961 and received a master's degree in 1963 from the University of Pennsylvania. From 1968 to 1969, Neal taught at the City College of New York. The following year he taught at Wesleyan University. He taught at Yale University from 1970 to 1975. Neal is known for working with Amiri Baraka to open the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School. His early writings...including "The Negro in the Theatre" (1964), "Cultural Front" (1965), and "The Black Arts Movement" (1968)...were influential in defining and describing the role of the arts in the Black Power era. His essays and poems appeared in publications such as Liberator, Drama Critque, Black Theatre, Negro Digest, Performance, and Black World. He also uncovered Ed Bullins's plagiarism of Albert Camus's play The Just Assassins. Neal died from a heart attack in 1981.