Cleaver, Eldridge(Leroy Eldridge Cleaver), 1935–98, African-American social activist, b. Wabbaseka, Ark. Growing up in Los Angeles, he spent much of 1954–66 in prison for various crimes including rape. In 1966 he joined the staff of Ramparts magazine, and soon became a member of the Black PanthersBlack Panthers,
U.S. African-American militant party, founded (1966) in Oakland, Calif., by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Originally aimed at armed self-defense against the local police, the party grew to espouse violent revolution as the only means of achieving black
..... Click the link for more information. . In 1968 his book Soul on Ice made him famous. The next year, fleeing arrest following a Panther shootout with Oakland (Calif.) police, he began a period of exile in Cuba, Algeria, and other points, during which he broke with the Panthers. After his return to the United States in 1975, he espoused a wide, even bizarre, range of political, religious, and commercial causes.
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Cleaver, Eldridge(1935– ) social activist, author; born in Wabbeseka, Ark. Convicted on a marijuana charge (1954), he began a 12-year cycle of prison terms. During this time he obtained a high school diploma, converted to the Black Muslim faith, and began to write. He was a staff writer for Ramparts magazine (1966) and became a much-publicized college lecturer after the release of Soul on Ice (1968), a seminal work on the black experience. He fled the United States (1969) to escape a prison sentence resulting from an alleged shoot-out with the Oakland police. Living in several third-world countries, including Algeria, he returned to the U.S.A. (1979) after battling the Algerian authorities over his connection with an alleged skyjacking incident. Pleading guilty to assaulting an Oakland police officer, he was placed on probation and ordered to do 2,000 hours of community service. He became a "born-again" Christian and by 1982 had become an ardent supporter of the U.S.A.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.