African American Heritage

Black Power - Kathleen Cleaver

Kathleen Neal Cleaver is a professor of law and well known for her involvement with the Black Panther Party. Her activism began when she left college for a secretarial job in the New York offices of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). While attending a student conference at Fisk University, she met Eldridge Cleaver, Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party. They moved to San Francisco and married. Kathleen became the Communications Secretary and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making body.

Following a series of shootouts and other reported criminal activity, Kathleen joined her husband in exile. She lived in various countries including: Cuba, Algeria, France, and North Korea. When they returned to the United States, Eldridge Cleaver was again tied up in litigation for previous activity. Kathleen returned to school with a full scholarship to Yale University. She divorced Eldridge then continued on to obtain her law degree at Yale Law School . Since then, Kathleen has held multiple professorships and, even worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals. She is currently a senior lecturer at Emory University School of Law.

Records at the National Archives relating to Kathleen Cleaver include FBI case files investigating her activities with the Black Panther Party across the United States. She can also be seen speaking at Hutton Memorial Park in the news reel Black Panther.

Record Group 59: Department of State

Central Foreign Policy Files, 1973-1979 National Archives Identifier 654098

Selected Records
P-Reel Document Index Entries, 1976 ( NAID 1663647

The electronic records in this series can be searched online via the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) system. The telegrams on AAD include only unclassified, unrestricted files which have been determined to be of permanent historical value. Please search for 'Kathleen Cleaver'.

Record Group 65: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Classification 44 (Civil Rights) Case Files

Please use the Find function in your browser to search for 'Kathleen Cleaver'

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files

Please use the Find function in your browser to search for 'Kathllen Cleaver'

Motion Picture Films and Video Recordings, ca. 1936- ca. 1985 National Archives Identifier: 12073

Selected Records
Black Panther ( NAID 12101) Also available for viewing on YouTube