State Rep. Joe Neal dead at 66

State Representative Joe Neal has passed away.

Neal represented District 70 which covers Sumter and Richland counties.

He was also part of the House Ways And Means Committee.

Neal gave a passionate speech during the debates to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.

He traced his ancestry to four brothers, brought to America in chains and bought by a slave owner named Neal who pulled them apart from their families.

"The whole world is asking, is South Carolina really going to change, or will it hold to an ugly tradition of prejudice and discrimination and hide behind heritage as an excuse for it?" Neal said.

Representative Wendell Gilliard released the following statement

"He was a great and humble State Representative, he had a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love."

Friends and fellow legislators took to social media to honor Neal. He was 66 years old.

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