A native of Arkansas, Leroy Eldridge Cleaver and his family joined the exodus of African Americans from the South during World War II. In the 1940âs, thousands of migrants moved to California in search of lucrative industrial jobs in the shipyards and aircraft factories. Like many other young African Americans who left the South for the West, Cleaver found that the promise of upward mobility was a myth, and he joined the swelling ranks of alienated youths in the inner-city ghettos of San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles.
He’s the stuff of kitschy seminary teachers who like to make the Church hip to their edgy adolescents: Eldridge Cleaver. A real Alma the Younger story that those white kids in Utah Valley can understand.
August 31, 1935, Wabbaseka, Arkansas
May 1, 1998, Los Angeles, California
Position: Minister of Information, Black Panther Party
Eldridge Cleaver: Post Prison Writings and Speeches was edited by Robert Scheer in 1968. Lee Lockwood's talks with Cleaver were published as Conversations with Eldridge Cleaver: Algiers (1970). Books about the Black Panthers that include Cleaver are Gene Marine The Black Panthers (1969), Ruth Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones The Vanguard: A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers (1970), Philip S. Foner, ed. The Black Panthers Speak (1970), and Bobby Seale Seize the Time (1970). Two books critical of the Black Panthers are Earl Anthony Picking Up the Gun (1970), and I Was a Black Panther, as told to C. J. Moore (1970). Cleaver's own autobiography is Soul On Fire (1978). Much biographical information on Cleaver can be found in David Leon Leaders From the 1960s: A Biographical Sourcebook of American Activism (1994), and a biography of Cleaver to that point can be found in the 1970 issue of Current Biography. Cleaver also appears in August 1996 issue of Ebony magazine. □
Later that day after Eldridge was in the ground, I walked in a Los Angeles neighborhood and found a small park. In the park was a stone circle. Around it was carved the words "To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die." I knew then that Eldridge Cleaver would continue to live in my heart.