The Black Panther, 1966-2016

Vitrine #12: A Glimpse at Kathleen Cleaver

Kathleen Cleaver was one of the most prominent women in the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the first female Black Panther to be a member of the Central Committee. As the Party’s first communications secretary, Cleaver served as its media spokesperson. In doing so, she provided a striking image of strength and femininity with which one could identify the Party, which had too often been characterized as hypermasculine by the mainstream media. Her romantic and political partnership with Eldridge Cleaver, for whom she organized the Eldridge Cleaver Defense Fund after he was jailed for assaulting police officers, emphasizes the critical role women played in the Party and the larger black power movement.


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