Born in Selma in 1948, Joyce Parrish O’Neal lived there until 1970, when she completed her B.S. degree at Stillman College. She moved to Hartford, Connecticut for two years before returning to Selma where she has lived ever since. She returned to school and earned an M.A. degree in Social Work in 1993 from the University of Alabama. Mrs. O’Neal worked as a Social Worker from 1974 to 1977. She retired as District Specialist in 2009. Mrs. O’Neal has received multiple honors, including Outstanding Service Rendered to the Youth Motivation Task Force at Stillman College (2000), Outstanding Lay Person of the Biennial (2007-2009), Foot Soldier’s Recognition at the U.S. Capitol (2016), Permanent Member of the Senior Citizens’ Hall of Fame (2017), and the Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame (2017).
Mrs. O’Neal was also the first African-American elected to the Alabama State Personnel Board (2006 and 2010). Mrs. O’Neal has had a lifetime association with Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. She was baptized there as an infant and has been an active member since then. She remembers attending mass meetings at the church with her family in the 1960’s. To this day, she remains a dedicated member.