African American Heritage

Kathleen Cleaver (May 13, 1945)

Kathleen Neal Cleaver was born in Dallas, Texas and spent much of her childhood living abroad with her family due to her father’s position in the Foreign Service. After the family returned to the United States, she attended a Quaker boarding school and later attended Oberlin College and Barnard College. Her activism began when she left college to work for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in New York City. She organized a student conference at Fisk University, and at this conference she met Eldridge Cleaver, Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party. They moved to San Francisco and married in late 1967. Kathleen became the Communications Secretary and was the first woman in the Party’s leadership group.

Following a series of shootouts with police and other reported criminal activity, Eldridge fled the country in 1968 and Kathleen joined him a year later. The couple lived in Cuba, Algeria, France, and North Korea. When they returned to the United States, Eldridge was again tied up in litigation for previous activity. Kathleen obtained a scholarship to Yale University and graduated with honors and a history degree in 1984. She divorced Eldridge in 1987, then earned a law degree at Yale Law School. Since then, Kathleen has held multiple professorships and also worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals. She is currently a senior lecturer at the Emory University School of Law.

Social Networks and Archival Context - Kathleen Cleaver

Kathleen Cleaver at Rally

Kathleen Cleaver in a still from "Black Panther" (NAID 12101)


Selected Records Relating to Kathleen Cleaver

RG 65: Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Classification 44 (Civil Rights) Headquarters Case Files                                                                                                                                                         

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files [Knoxville, Tennessee Field Division]

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, [Jackson, Mississippi Field Division]

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, [Savannah, Georgia Field Division]

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, [Detroit, Michigan Field Division]

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, [Cleveland, Ohio Field Division]

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, [Washington D.C. Field Division]

44-39665, California (1968) Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, Huey Newton, BPP, Emory Douglas                                                   

157-2688  Kathleen Neal Cleaver                                                                                                                     

157-14841 Kathleen Neal Cleaver                                                                                                                   

157-2039 Kathleen Neal Cleaver--Cleaver Faction--Black Panther Party (BPP) 

157-4347 Kathleen Cleaver                                                                                                                               

157-4292 Kathleen Cleaver                                                                                                                               

157-1584 Kathleen Cleaver -- Black Panther Party