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From Panthers To Priesthood


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This intereview is kind of long, but it was really interesting. The Willis' were members of the Black Panther Party, back in the 60's and this is their journey from there, to becoming members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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Yeah, the 60's seems like another lifetime, almost. :)

God does work in the most unexpected ways, at times. Interesting story. I liked hearing about the Panthers put into the context of the times. I think, some of what went on in the 60's suffers from "presentism", when we look back from here. It certainly had it's problems, but there was a lot of good going on there, as well, as far as helping people and children in the poorer neighborhoods.

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I think Eldridge Cleaver joined the Church sometime in the 80s. I remember him talking to the youth in our Stake about his journey. I don't know how active he remained in the Church after his conversion.

I believe he joined a few more churches after that.

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I believe he joined a few more churches after that.

Not correct. He remained faithful, just inactive. He had personal sins and vices, as well as likely his health being an issue.

He may have on rare occasion attended another Church service, given those he was around and being inactive, but I don't know of any info of him joining any other church.

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Interesting. I didn't know that, about Eldridge Cleaver. Did a Google and found this:



Cleaver was the most well-known American Black Nationalist and Radical in the 1960s. He was the most well-known Black Panther in the 1960s; the Party being a combination of Black Nationalism and Marxism. After fleeing the U.S. to avoid a manslaughter charge (he was with other Panthers in a shootout with Oakland California Police in 1969) he exiled himself to Algeria and later Cuba. He soon became disillusioned with Communism and Socialism when he saw that socialist countries were no "paradises of the workers" as he had been led to believe. He had a "born-again" experience in Cuba, and became a born-again Christian. He returned to the U.S. in 1975 and was given many years of probation (he was not the shooter). Being a famous figure for years, Cleaver was "wined and dined" by prominent Evangelicals and was offered multimillion dollar contracts to start his own Christian television ministry. He declined this, perferring to work (at a low salary) with young black men in a prison ministry. He concern was not becoming wealthy, but to work with young black men in prisons; to convert them to Christ as the way to free them from crime and gangs. By 1982 he had become disillusioned with the commercialism and showmanshipism of Evangelical Christianity, and he started looking into alternative religions. Also in 1982 he met Cleon Skousen, founder of the Freeman Institute (now called the National Center for Constitutional Studies). Cleaver gave talks for the Freeman Institute, and Skousen (a well-known Mormon author and former FBI agent) introduced Cleaver and his wife to the Mormon Faith. In 1984 he was baptized into the LDS Church. He remained a Member of it (although later not always active) until his death in 1998, at age 62, of diabetes.
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