April 08, 2014, BY Kathryn Kopchik

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Kathleen CleaverKathleen Neal Cleaver, human rights activist and former Black Panther member, will give a talk Wednesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in Bucknell Hall at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Griot Institute for Africana Studies series "The Civil Rights Movement: Fifty Years Later."

Cleaver is a senior lecturer in the African American Studies Department at Yale and holds an appointment as a senior lecturer and research fellow at Emory University School of Law.

Since 2000, she has served as the co-director of the Atlanta-based Human Rights Research Fund, 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 within the United States.

Cleaver has spent most of her life advocating for human rights. She dropped out of Barnard College in 1966 to work full time with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee where she served in the campus program. From 1967-71, she was the Black Panther Party's communications secretary and the first female member of their central committee. After spending years in exile with Eldridge Cleaver in Algeria and France, she returned to the United States in late 1975.
After graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in history from Yale College in 1984 and receiving a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1989, Cleaver became an associate at the New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore before clerking for Judge A. Leon Higginbotham of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. She has worked to free imprisoned freedom fighters including Geronimo ji-Jaga Pratt and Mumia Abu-Jamal. 

Cleaver's writings have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. She edited Target Zero: A Life in Writing, a collection of writings by her former husband, Eldridge Cleaver. Her latest work is a memoir, Memories of Love and War (2013).

In conjunction with the Civil Rights series, the Freedom Riders Exhibit may be seen April 16 through May 13 on the main level of the Bertrand Library at Bucknell. The exhibit is sponsored by the Friends of the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library and the Griot Institute for Africana Studies.

Freedom Riders is a traveling exhibition developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in partnership with AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Major funding for the traveling exhibition was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.