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Eldridge Cleaver

Cleaver, Eldridge (Leroy Eldridge Cleaver), 1935–98, African-American social activist, b. Wabbaseka, Ark. Growing up in Los Angeles, he spent much of 1954–66 in prison for various crimes including rape. In 1966 he joined the staff of Ramparts magazine, and soon became a member of the Black Panthers. In 1968 his book Soul on Ice made him famous. The next year, fleeing arrest following a Panther shootout with Oakland (Calif.) police, he began a period of exile in Cuba, Algeria, and other points, during which he broke with the Panthers. After his return to the United States in 1975, he espoused a wide, even bizarre, range of political, religious, and commercial causes.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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