. The Black Panthers
"Minister of Information" when they went national (his then-wife Kathleen was also a prominent Panthers spokesperson
author of the best-selling Soul on Ice
- his early adult life included spells in prison
charges. Soul on Ice
was written while Cleaver was imprisoned for a rape
He was chased into exile in the late 1960s, after a row with Panthers co-founder Huey Newton and with the law, though this may have all been part of COINTELPRO's dirty tricks. Cleaver found his way to Cuba, and later to Algeria; a few years later, he had a born again experience, and returned to the US in 1975 - with tales of Fidel Castro's "racism", other disavowals of his past, and a new gig as an entrepreneur, selling odd-crotched trousers he'd designed, and a new book, Soul on Fire, describing the experiences that brought him back to the US.
As a Black Power icon, he had run in the 1968 presidential election, nominated by the Peace and Freedom Party, garnering about 37,000 votes. The New Cleaver eventually ran as a conservative Republican for the US Senate, with similar results.
By 1988, he was in trouble with the law again, with convictions on burglary and cocaine possession charges. This time, he got probation instead of "on ice". How far we've come.