Eldridge Cleaver and His Wife, Kathleen, Algiers, Algeria, 1970
Gelatin silver print on paper
14 x 11 in. (35.56 x 27.94 cm)
Marie-Louise and Samuel R. Rosenthal Fund, 2015
In 1970, the editors of Life magazine asked Gordon Parks to produce a story reporting on the status of the Black Panthers, who had been on the leading edge of violent resistance to white supremacy during the 1960s, but whose influence had begun to diminish following brutal conflicts with law enforcement. Parks interviewed Eldridge Cleaver, the group's one-time Minster of Information, in Algeria, where, as the article describes, he had fled while on parole for a rape and assault conviction. Cleaver is pictured here with his wife, Kathleen, in their home in Algiers beneath a photograph of Huey P. Newton, the founder of the Black Panther Party.
In later life, Cleaver would renounce his radical past and follow a winding path toward spiritual and political fulfillment that included conversion to Mormonism and becoming an active Republican. Kathleen, meanwhile, went back to school, completing undergraduate and law degrees at Yale University. The Cleavers were divorced in 1987 and Eldridge Cleaver died in 1998. Kathleen Cleaver continues to teach, write, and lecture on the Civil Rights Movement.