• Mar 7, 2007

Kathleen Cleaver: “Target Zero: A Life in Writing”

  • 5:30 PM
  • Austin Hall North, Harvard Law School, 1515 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Book Signing to Follow

Kathleen Neal Cleaver has spent most of her life participating in the human rights struggle. Cleaver currently holds an appointment as a Senior Lecturer at Yale University in the African American Studies Department. In addition, she is the co-director of the Human Rights Research Fund, which is part of a network of anti-racist organizations engaged in documenting violations of the human rights of U.S. citizens who challenge the racist and military policies that injure their communities.

As a college sophomore, Cleaver dropped out of Barnard College in 1966 to work full time with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) where she served in the Campus Program. From 1967 to 1971 she was the Communications Secretary of the Black Panther Party, the first woman member of their Central Committee. After sharing years of exile with her former husband Eldridge Cleaver, she returned to the United States in late 1975. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History from Yale College in 1984, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After receiving a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1989, Cleaver became an associate at the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore. From 1991 – 92, she clerked for the late Judge A. Leon Higginbotham of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, and then started teaching Emory Law School.

While an Assistant Professor of Law at Emory University during 1993, she served on the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts and became a board member of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights. She’s devoted many years to the defense of “Geronimo” Pratt, now ji Jaga, a former Black Panther leader who was released in 1997 after spending 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Professor Cleaver has been a visiting faculty member at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yale University, and Sarah Lawrence College. She has taught courses on legal ethics, litigation, torts, a legal history seminar entitled “The American Law of Slavery and Anti-Slavery,” as well as a an undergraduate course on Women in the Black Freedom Movement.

Kathleen Cleaver has won fellowships at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute of Harvard University, the Center for Historical Analysis at Rutgers University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library to complete her book Memories of Love and War, which is still in progress. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Ramparts, The Black Panther, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, and Transition, and she has contributed scholarly essays to the books Critical Race Feminism, Critical White Studies, The Promise of Multiculturalism, and The Black Panther Party Reconsidered. Along with George Katsificas, humanities professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology, she co-edited the collection of essays entitled Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party (Routledge, 2001). She returned to the School of Law at Emory University during 2001 where she is a Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow. Most recently, she edited the collection of writings by Eldridge Cleaver entitled Target Zero: A Life in Writing (Palgrave, 2006) that was published in February.