Born in the Bahamas but raised in four of the five New York boroughs, excluding the Bronx, from age seven onwards, Neil J. Smith was the fifth child of ten children. He says “I was ill-educated in as many schools” and did not receive an education until he discovered the library system. He started boxing at the age of 12 and went on to win various amateur awards for the next 12 years, including the All Army Champion. He organized for various civil rights groups, the 5th Avenue Peace Parade Committee, and finally The Black Panther Party. After that sojourn, Neil studied creative writing, literature, and poetry at NYU with William Packard, author, editor, professor, and founder of the prestigious New York Quarterly, where Neil was vice president for 15 years. He now lives upstate with his paramour where he continues to write.resting about your business here.
A friend of mine recently asked, “Why did you write On The Ropes” and what gave you the drive to accomplish it over the long haul?”I replied, "I wrote the story because it was within my abilities despite the years in which it took. And they were many. I followed through on it because I owed it not only to those who did not nor do not understand the meaning of the existence of the Black Panther Party, particularly as we existed in New York, but more because someone need acknowledge the lives of those who ‘gave the last full measure of devotion,’ who gave when so many others were seeking their own advantage; who gave that many others may not have to sacrifice but savor their lives, as God intended. So many of these men and women had talent to burn, and they burnt it on a pyre of love for their people.
It "was and is” to my thinking the mythological Phoenix consumed in the flames and reborn anew. The story of those fallen in the Civil Rights Movement are well known and celebrated, those of the Panthers, on the other hand, fall into the realm of “legend.” My hope is in writing On The Ropes that the Phoenix might again crawl out of the ashes and once again spread it wings and fly anew.