When Reason Met Eldridge Cleaver


Former Reason staffer Bill Kauffman remembers some interviews he did for us in the '80s:

I'm not sure whether this belongs in the Sperm file or the Jim Morrison file.
Eldridge De Paris

My first interview was back in 1985, when Lynn Scarlett, an engaging New Leftist who wound up in G.W. Bush's subcabinet, and I traveled to Berkeley to spend the day chatting with Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver for Reason. When Eldridge—a loquacious and fascinating guy—got up to take a whizz, we glanced at his files. The two I remember were devoted to "Sperm" and whether Jim Morrison was extant or extinct.

I also interviewed a one-time Panther sympathizer, Clarence Thomas, who impressed me as friendly and intellectually curious. I liked the Booker T. Washington/Marcus Garvey/Malcolm X self-help streak in Thomas, then EEOC chairman.

Ted Kennedy later used that interview in the Thomas hearings to paint the nominee as a radical libertarian. If only!

You can read Kauffman's Cleaver interview here and his Thomas interview here. For more about those pants in the picture, go here.