November 24, 1968
Wabbaseka (Jefferson County) native Leroy Eldridge Cleaver, one of the best-known and most recognizable symbols of African-American rebellion, fled to Cuba with his wife after his parole was revoked. A leader of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, Cleaver published several books, including the autobiographical titles Soul on Ice (1968) and Soul on Fire (1978), Eldridge Cleaver: Post-Prison Writings and Speeches (1969), and Eldridge Cleaver’s Black Papers (1969). Cleaver became a born-again Christian in the 1970s, and in 1980, attempted to create a new religion, Christlam, which was a combination of Christianity and Islam. In the early 1980s, he joined the Republican Party and endorsed Ronald Reagan in Reagan’s 1984 presidential reelection campaign. Cleaver died in California in 1998.