Kathleen Neal Cleaver, now a law professor is best known for her work with The Black Panther Party. Cleaver, who was born Kathleen Neal in Memphis Texas in 1945, was the child of a two academics.
She met Eldridge Cleaver, the minister of information for the Black Panther Party while organizing a student conference at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The pair married in 1967. Kathleen Cleaver then rose to prominence in The Black Panther Party. She served as the spokesperson and press secretary for the party.
In 1968, when Cleaver was asked the significance of natural hair, she had this to say,
“This brother here, myself and all of us were born with our hair like this, and we just wear it like this because it’s natural. The reason for it, you might say, is like a new awareness among Black people that their own natural physical appearance is beautiful and is pleasing to them. For so many years, we were told that only white people were beautiful–that only straight hair, light eyes, light skin was beautiful so Black women would try everything they could — straighten their hair, lighten their skin— to look as much like white women. This has changed because black people are aware. White people are aware of it too because white people now want natural wigs like this. Dig it. Isn’t it beautiful? Alright.”