The Right Excellent Charles Duncan O’Neal (1879-1936), was a doctor and a member of the privileged class who agitated for the rights of the underprivileged. He fought against the racism that was rampant in the 1920s and 1930s, campaigned for improved conditions for women in the workplace and worked to obtain free education and dental care for children.
O’Neal founded the Democratic League, a grass-roots political party in 1924, and two years later established the Working Men’s Association. He also invested in a newspaper, The Herald, which he used to spread the message about the need for social reform and enfranchisement.
In 1932, O’Neal was elected to the House of Assembly and used that forum to continue his struggle on behalf of workers and to pressure for the abolition of child labour.
His work for the underprivileged is seen by many as the foundation upon which Sir Grantley Adams built.
The Right Excellent Charles Duncan O’Neal died on November 19, 1936.
The Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge in Bridgetown is named in his honour, and he is one of Barbados’ 10 National Heroes.