It's back to college for Mrs. Cleaver

The Eldridge Cleaver family lives on both coasts - Eldridge in Stanford, Calif., with his offices and activities, and wife, Kathleen, and two children in New Haven, Conn., where she is a student at Yale University, class of 1984.

After roaming the world with her once angry husband in search of the ideal form of revolution, Mrs. Cleaver now seeks a place in mainstream America.

She is ''a serious student'' in college ''because I want to do things right this time,'' she says. Her goals of today are the same as those of ''the rebellious '60s,'' she explains - work in international relations; influence American policies in Africa; understand constitutional questions; be expert in criminal defense.

''I am so glad Eldridge returned home,'' she says. ''The United States is a dynamic, marvelous place in comparison to the rest of the world. And we have so many positives here - schools, libraries, sanitary food and water, roads. My children and I appreciate America.''

And ''suddenly'' she is an elder citizen at 36 years of age to her classmates. ''I didn't know you were so old,'' they tell her. Youthful undergrads have made her their confidante and counselor.

Her classmates, however, are too young to know about ''Eldridge, Dr. (Martin Luther) King, Malcolm X, or John F. Kennedy,'' she adds.

She feels ''at home and part of the Yale family,'' even as a housewife, mother, and student, she says.

''Faculty and administration work to help the undergraduate,'' she says. ''Of course, I have to work and study hard - no time for lots of play. My kids miss California, the life style and the weather, but New England is growing on us. Everybody encourages us.''

At Yale she is a pre-law student with emphasis in history. She sees the United States as a ''pragmatic nation that adjusts to change.'' What a change to see George Wallace (former governor of Alabama who once stood in front of a schoolhouse to keep black children out) campaigning for votes from black people, she says. ''I like that. Nothing is totally fixed in this country.''

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