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  • Michelle Smith

Amazing Melanated Mommies: 3

Updated: Apr 18, 2019

While African American history is too extraordinary to be summed up in a year, let alone a month, we will be celebrating phenomenal women who changed the world as we see it now all while raising children. If they can do it, so can we. Lets do it!!!

Kathleen Cleaver is best known for her role in the Black Panther Party. Born to activist parents, she was no stranger challenging the confounds that society placed on her simply because of how she looked. Because of her father’s role in the Foreign Service, Cleaver traveled to numerous countries such as India, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Philippines. These experiences exposed her to various thought and belief structures including socialism, communism and nationalism. In 1967 Cleaver moved to San Francisco where she joined the Black Panther party. She became the Communications Secretary for the party and worked to organize demonstrations, creating pamphlets, holding press conferences, designing posters and speaking at rallies on TV. She also became the communications secretary and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making body. After marrying Eldridge Cleaver that same year, she and her husband where often targeting as a result of their involvement in the party. In 1968 their home was raided and Cleaver was forced to live in exile. During this time she gave birth to a son in Cuba, and a daughter in North Korea. After returning to the united states and leaving her husband, Kathleen earned a full scholarship from Yale University where she graduated summa cum laude and went on to earn her law degree from Yale Law School in 1989. Today Cleaver is currently serving as senior lecturer at Emory University School of Law and continues to work on campaigns including freedom for death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. Cleaver has also published her book, Memories of Love and War.

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