The Eldridge and Kathleen Neal Cleaver Family Image Archive
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Kathleen Neal Cleaver

Biography of Kathleen Neal Cleaver, former Communications Secretary of the Black Panther Party and current professor of law at Emory University.

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Kathleen Neal Cleaver has spent her life participating in the human rights struggle. She began as a civil rights protestor in Alabama before becoming a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) working in the New York City and Atlanta chapters of the organization. Later, Ms. Cleaver became the first Communications Secretary of the Black Panther Party in Oakland and led the International Section of the Black Panther Party in Algiers. After graduating Yale Law School, she became a vocal advocate for racial equality in the criminal justice system. She has served on the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts, and became a board member of the Southern Center for Human Rights. Cleaver has worked to free imprisoned freedom fighters, including Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt and Mumia Abu-Jamal, for over thirty years. Since 2000, Cleaver served as co-director for the Human Rights Research Fund.


wife, mother & Grandmother

As a leader of the Black Panther Party in her own right and the wife of Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver, she became one of the most photographed women of the Black Power Movement. While accompanying Mr. Cleaver in exile in Algiers and Paris, she had two children Maceo and Joju. Ms. Cleaver currently resides in Atlanta with her daughter and four of her grandchildren.



A professor of law at Emory University, Cleaver has received fellowships from Radcliffe College, Harvard University, Rutgers University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Cultures, and the Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library. Her writing has appeared in Ramparts, The Black Panther, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, and Transition, and she has contributed scholarly essays to the books Critical Race Feminism, Critical White Studies, The Promise of Multiculturalism, and The Black Panther Party Reconsidered. She co-edited Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party (Routledge, 2001) with George Katsiaficas, and edited a collection of writings by Eldridge Cleaver, Target Zero: A Life in Writing (Palgrave, 2006).

Cleaver co-founded and produced the International Black Panther Film Festival. She has participated in international programs at the American University of Beirut in 2006, in Brazil in 2007, and in 2009 at a U.S. law school consortium’s summer law and policy program. She was a delegate to the Third International Book Fair (FILVEN) in Venezuela during 2007, and was an honored participant in the American delegation to the second Pan African Cultural Festival held in Algiers, Algeria in 2009.