Leroy Eldridge Cleaver (August 31, 1935 – May 1, 1998) was an American writer and political activist who became an early leader of the Black Panther Party. His 1968 book, Soul On Ice, is a collection of essays that, at the time of its publication, was praised by The New York Times Book Review as “brilliant and revealing”. In the most controversial part of the book, Cleaver acknowledges committing many acts of rape.
Cleaver went on to become a prominent member of the Black Panthers, having the titles Minister of Information and Head of the International Section of the Panthers, while a fugitive from the United States criminal justice system in Cuba and Algeria. He became a fugitive after leading an ambush of Oakland police officers, during which two officers were wounded. Cleaver was also wounded during the ambush and Black Panther member Bobby Hutton was killed. As editor of the official Panther’s newspaper, The Black Panther, Cleaver’s influence on the direction of the Party was rivaled only by founders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Cleaver and Newton eventually fell out with each other, resulting in a split that weakened the party.
Cleaver wrote in Soul on Ice: “If a man like Malcolm X could change and repudiate racism, if I myself and other former Muslimscan change, if young whites can change, then there is hope for America.”
After spending seven years in exile in Cuba, Algeria, and France, Cleaver returned to the US in 1975, where he became involved in various religious groups (Unification Church and CARP) before finally joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as becoming a conservative Republican, appearing at Republican events
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