This Is Carrington

Kathleen Cleaver - A Living Liberator

Kathleen Cleaver - A Living Liberator

Kathleen Neal was born on May 13, 1945 in Memphis, Texas. With two parents who were college graduates, it wouldn’t be tough to see the important role that education and higher learning would go to play in her life; and also the intellect that she would go on to display in her activism work. Her father joined the Foreign Service and the family would spend the next several years in India, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Philippines. These experiences abroad in countries populated mainly by people of color, especially such diverse ethnic groups would forever shape her demeanor and outlook. In the early 60’s, Kathleen Neal returned to the United States to go to high school. Initially she enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio, and then transferred to Barnard College in New York City. In 1966, Neal’s heavier interest in activism saw her drop out of Barnard and concentrate her involvement in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. One of her first tasks was to organize a black student conference to take place at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. At this conference is where she would meet the then Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Eldridge Cleaver. Kathleen would go on to say her and Eldridge were a “meeting of the spirit, she was becoming a revolutionary and was very impressed with his statesmenlike quality.” carrying the name Kathleen Cleaver, she decided to leave SNCC and join her husband in San Francisco to work for the Black Panther Party. Cleaver would become the first woman included in the Party’s central committee. Engaged as the Communications Secretary, Cleaver’s role was to write and give speeches nationwide, and also be the media spokesperson for the organization. Kathleen returned to college receiving a full scholarship to Yale University in New Haven, CT where she would enroll in August 1981. She would graduate in 1983, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in History. In 1987, Kathleen Cleaver divorced Eldridge, while in law school. She would graduate from Yale Law School in 1988; joining the New York City law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore shortly thereafter before accepting a position as a law clerk for the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in 1991. Then in 1992, Cleaver joined the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where she teaches the law.

Duration: 40 min

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