Collection consists primarily of snapshots of Eldridge Cleaver's career from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. Earliest materials
relate to his affiliation with the Black Panther Party. Also contains photographs taken during his exile abroad from 1968
to 1975. The majority of photographs was taken after Cleaver's 1975 return to the United States and relate primarily to his
activities in conservative politics and the evangelical Christian movement.
Leroy Eldridge Cleaver was born on August 3, 1935 in Wabbaseka, Arkansas. In 1956 his family moved to Los Angeles. During
his youth he was convicted for various theft and drug offenses and spent time in reformatories and the California State Prison
at Soledad. In 1958 he was convicted of assault and spent 8 years in the San Quentin and Folsom prisons. During this period
of incarceration he became a member and minister of the Nation of Islam and a follower of Malcolm X. With the assistance of
attorney and lover Beverly Axelrod, Cleaver had several of his prison writings published in the left-wing periodical Ramparts. The support which his writings earned him from the U.S. intellectual community was influential in gaining Cleaver's release
from prison in 1965. In 1967, while living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cleaver married Kathleen Neal, an activist in the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That same year he befriended Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, co-founders of the
Black Panther Party, and soon became the Party's Minister of Information. The following year Cleaver published Soul On Ice -- a collection of essays named Book of the Year by the New York Times -- and ran as a candidate for the U.S. Presidency for the Peace and Freedom Party. Later that year Cleaver and fellow Black
Panther Bobby Hutton were involved in a shootout with Oakland Police. Hutton was killed and Cleaver was charged with murder.
While awaiting trial, Cleaver fled to Cuba. He would spend the next seven years in exile, living also in Algeria and Paris
during that time. During his exile, Cleaver formed the International Section of the Black Panther Party in Algeria; met with
political leaders in North Vietnam, North Korea and China; quickly became disillusioned with Marxist-Leninist beliefs; and
eventually broke ties with the Black Panthers. During this time he and Kathleen had two children, Antonio Maceo and Joju.
While in Paris, Cleaver experienced a spiritual transformation which led to his conversion to Christianity and conservative
politics. In 1975 Cleaver negotiated with the F.B.I. for his return to the United States as a prisoner. In 1977, after his
renunciation of his earlier political activity and his release from prison, he founded the Eldridge Cleaver Crusades, an evangelical
Christian movement. Cleaver would later have affiliations with Sun Myung Moon's Collegiate Association of Research Principles
and the Mormon Church. In the 1980s Cleaver ran two unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. Congress. He later became addicted to
crack cocaine and was arrested on several drug-related charges. In 1987 Kathleen Cleaver divorced him. In the 1990s Cleaver
kicked his addiction and worked as a diversity consultant for the University of La Verne in Southern California. Eldridge
Cleaver died May 1, 1998.
Number of containers: 10 boxes, 1 oversize folder (circa 1,720 photographic prints, circa 480 negatives, circa 440 slides).
7 digital objects (7 images)
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or reproduce must be submitted
in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner
of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained
by the user. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.
Collection is open for research, with the following exceptions: RESTRICTED NEGATIVES: Use of negatives only by permission
of the appropriate curator. Inquiries concerning these materials should be directed, in writing, to the Head of Public Services,
The Bancroft Library.