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He further distanced himself from his previous associates when he rejected his previous radicalism. Cleaver became a born-again Christian while he African American Eras  Contemporary Times 17 Activism and Reform ........................................................ H E A D L IN E M A K E RS was in prison. He began voicing his support for politically conservative causes after he was released in 1980. S. president in the 1980 election. Cleaver stated that he opposed welfare, abortion, and Mexican immigration, and that he advocated capital punishment.

The same level as white voter registration. African American politicians at the local, state, and federal levels saw new opportunities open up for them. By the early 1970s, major cities across the country elected their first black mayors. S. Congress grew dramatically. And in 2008, forty years after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated because of his pursuit of equal rights for African Americans, the people of the United States elected Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president. A stronger African American presence in the public sphere was complemented by a growing African American presence in the private sector.

H Eldridge Cleaver in 1982. ª Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis ELDRIDGE CLEAVER (1935–1998) After a childhood and young adulthood spent in reform schools and prisons, black militant Eldridge Cleaver exploded into public awareness with the publication of his 1968 book Soul on Ice. Soul on Ice is a collection of stories and essays on Cleaver’s experience of race in America, particularly in its prisons. Cleaver earned widespread praise and criticism for the book. He also joined forces with Huey P. Newton (1942–89) and Bobby Seale (1936– ), founders of the black nationalist Black Panther Party.

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