Eldridge Cleaver, who is recognized as a leader in the Black Panther Party, was born as Leroy Eldridge Cleaver in Arkansas on Aug. 31, 1935.
In 1958, Cleaver was convicted of rape and spent eight years in prison where he became a follower of Malcolm X and wrote his prison memoir Soul on Ice. The memoir became one of the New York Times’ top 10 books of 1968.
After being freed in December 1966, Cleaver helped organize a cultural center called Black House, where he met Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the co-founders of the Black Panther Party. Cleaver severed ties with the Black Panthers in 1971.
Eldridge Cleaver suffered from diabetes and prostate cancer and died on May 1, 1998. He was 62 years old.
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