O’Neal Smalls, Esq. credits his career success to the lessons he learned in culture and character on the farm where his parents raised him in the Freewoods section of Horry County, South Carolina. Smalls attended St. James Rosenwald School, built by black farmers with assistance from the Julian Rosenwald Fund, and later graduated from Whittemore High School in Conway.
Smalls earned his bachelor’s degree at Tuskegee University,studying under Dr. Charles G. Gomillion, a fellow South Carolina native and Civil Rights pioneer who inspired Smalls’ participation in voter registration drives and sit-ins in the fight against discrimination. Smalls also served as student body president at Tuskegee. He received his Juris Doctorate from Harvard University School of Law and the Master of Laws from the Georgetown University School of Law.
Smalls earned the Bronze Star for his distinguished service to his country during his career as an officer in the United States Army. His tour of duty included an assignment as Administrative Assistant to the Army Provost Marshall in Vietnam.
Smalls launched his academic career at the American University School of Law in Washington, D.C., earning the rank of full professor. He also taught law at George Washington University and the University of South Carolina. During his tenure at USC, Smalls chaired a committee that studied the status of desegregation at the university. He was also active in local bar associations, the National Bar Association, and other civic organizations and published the Manhood Training Manual for Boys 11-14 that is widely used in churches and other organizations in several states.
In his retirement, Smalls would return to his farming roots as founder of the Freewoods Farm, a living farm museum. Located in Myrtle Beach, its mission is to highlight and commemorate the role of farming in African American history, their contributions through farming and the influence of farming on their culture and character. This Freewoods Farms is now his classroom.