Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born in Wabbaseka, Arkansas, Cleaver's family moved to Phoenix and then to Los Angeles. As a teenager he became involved in petty crime, and in 1957 he was convicted of assault with intent to murder. While in prison, he wrote a book of essays, Soul on Ice , which was influential in the black power movement and infamous for, among many things, his admission to raping several white women which he defended as "an insurrectionary act." He also admitted that he began his career as a rapist by "practicing on black girls in the ghetto."
He was a candidate for President in 1968 on the ticket of the Peace and Freedom Party. That same year, he was injured in a conflict between the Panthers and Oakland police. Charged with attempted murder, he jumped bail to flee to Algeria, Cuba, and France.
Cleaver returned to the United States in 1975, and subsequently renounced the Black Panthers. Legal wrangling ended in his being sentenced to probation for assault.
He became a born-again Christian and published his testimony in his 1979 book Soul on Fire . As a conservative Republican, he even unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for United States Senate from California. At one point he became involved with Sun Myung Moon's campus ministry organization CARP and became involved with Mormonism.
In the mid-1980s, Cleaver became addicted to crack cocaine. In 1992 he was convicted of cocaine possession and burglary. In 1994, after nearly dying in a cocaine-related assault, he kicked his addiction and returned to Christianity.
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