From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Neal, Sterling Orlando, Sr.

(born: 1918  -  died: 1977) 

Sterling Neal, Sr. was born in Cleveland, OH to Robert and Anna Harper Neal, later making his home in Louisville, KY.

In 2003, he was selected for the Hall of Fame at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. He had been employed at the International Harvester Co. In 1952, he was elected the international vice-president and district president and a member of the general executive board of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), representing more than 300,000 workers in the United States and Canada. He had previously been the president of the UE District 7, representing Kentucky and Ohio, the first African American elected district president.

As president of UE District 7, he spoke before a U.S. House agriculture committee about the farm crisis that was causing high unemployment in the farm equipment industry. He asked for action from the U.S. Government to reverse the crisis.

Neal was also a civil rights activist in Louisville, a mentor and associate of Anne Braden. He served as Grand Knight of the St. Augustine Council 58, Knights of Peter Claver.  

In 1957, Neal was called to testify before a U.S Senate committee about Soviet activity in the U.S.; he was accompanied by James T. Wright, his attorney. Exhibit No. 475, a periodical article written by Neal, was presented as evidence during the hearing: S. O. Neal, "Unity pays off - everyone benefited when Negro and White workers stuck together at Louisville Harvester Plant," March of Labor, September 1953, p. 9.

Sterling Neal, Sr. was the father of Kentucky Senator Gerald Neal.

For more see SR 42 in Memory and Honor of Sterling Orlando Neal, Sr., 5/30/1997 [online];  "Union Leader" in Plaindealer, 2/29/1952, p. 2; "Long range farm program," Hearing before the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, 83rd Congress, 1st Session, held at Columbus, OH, October 20, 1953, Serial R, pt. 10, p. 1525; and "Scope of Soviet activity in the United States," Hearing before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Acts of the Committee of the Judiciary United States Senate, 85th Congress, 1st Session, June 6, 1957, pt.  68, p. 4206.

The government publications research for this entry was completed by UK Librarian Carla Cantagallo.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Neal, Sterling Orlando, Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-11-10 17:09:53