Brian W. Carter
Sentinel Staff Writer
On Kwame Kilpatrick’s website, the following statement was written by one of his previous constituents: “May God bless you and your family Kwame. I’m a 30-yr-old Detroiter and 20 something years ago my granny told me, ‘in life we all make mistakes, but God knew it, saw it and is ALWAYS there for forgiveness.’ I guess my point is: despite ANYTHING that went on in your personal life, it didn’t effect your Mayoral duties to the city of Detroit, you were THE BEST next to Mayor Young and it really hurt living in a city that I felt should’ve had your back 100 percent the way you had ours: 100 percent. Please CONTINUE to hold your head high brother because you’re walking with The Lord. Regardless of the media, the court system and anyone else who had something negative to say, you’re a role model, a good person and a child of The Lord.”
Kilpatrick was referred to as the young, “hip-hop” Mayor of Detroit and the youngest in history of that city to be elected to office. At the age of 31, he was full of enthusiasm, energy and had plans to help Detroit become a great city. Unfortunately, some of his choices and decisions eventually derailed his agenda. Kilpatrick now walks the redemption road still possibly facing black clouds on the horizon.
“While I was Mayor of the city of Detroit,” said Kilpatrick, “all I wanted to do was do well for the city. I know that my reckless behavior was a big disappointment to my family, friends and the people of the city, but now I am in the process of coming back.”
Kilpatrick has faced a storm of controversies including a civil lawsuit, perjury and obstruction of justice that resulted from an affair with his former chief of staff. But he has been very contrite and wants to return to his former standing as a well-respected family man after having fallen from grace.
In 2008, the affair with his chief of staff was exposed via a series of text messages which the prosecutors used to buttress their case that ended Kilpatrick’s political ambitions and landed him in jail. However, he used the time constructively and said afterwards, “I called that experience a purification process,” and now along with Bishop T. D. Jakes, senior pastor of Potter’s House in Dallas, he is undergoing intensive spiritual counseling, which in the future will produce a new ‘Kwame Kilpatrick.’ He remarked that his down time was a time of self-reflection which he utilized to address his wrongs and search his spirit and Bishop Jakes has been mentoring him, and helping in re-building his faith.
After that terrible and humbling ordeal, “My first priority was to reconnect with my family and I think I’ve done that in a major way,” said Kilpatrick. “My wife and I are closer than we’ve ever been, my children have their father back and that is the main thing.”
“The information that I’ve gained, the knowledge that I’ve gained,” said Kilpatrick, “the experience that I’ve had, has made me a better person, made me a better man, a better father, and it’s also going to make me a better leader in the future.” Despite extenuating circumstances, Kilpatrick continues to forge onward. He has a new position as an account executive at a medical software company and he hopes to help the community in this way by dealing with issues and awareness relative to healthcare.
“Now, I work for a health information technology company,” said Kilpatrick. “I’m learning that business and I think it’s an emerging field, trying to really establish healthcare in underserved communities around the country.”
The road to redemption may be somewhat bumpy and Kilpatrick has had to live under the microscope of the court, but has been willing to meet all of his financial obligations related to restitution. For the moment his life is an open book and in terms of his rehabilitation, it will certainly pay multiple dividends in his future, which at present looks promising.
Kilpatrick doesn’t see any politics in his future, but he did comment on President Barack Obama. “I think the meteoric rise of Barack Obama has been one of those being-at-the-right-place, at-the-right-time, anointings for this country,” he said. “I think that he has been phenomenal at his job … how he has handled himself has been phenomenal…I think for the last, particularly, eight months, what we’ve been seeing is one of the best presidential executives that we’ll see in our lifetime.”
And as a former chief executive himself, Kilpatrick can relate to Obama and the many changes he is gone through, from being a legislator to being the first Black president. “I was a state representative and then I was leader of the state house, I was the first African-American and the youngest person ever to hold that position in Michigan history.”
His inspiration, as he puts it, for choosing politics as a profession was his mother: Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick who represents Michigan’s 13th District in the United States House of Representatives. “She’s the epitome of a public servant,” said Kilpatrick. ” I only wanted to be in politics to serve and I watched her every single day go out when I was a kid…I saw her march and speak truth to power, I saw her organize labor unions…and she is just a phenomenal energy and spirit.”
Having set his focus in a new direction, Kilpatrick wants to focus on young, Black men and help them avoid similar mistakes. He feels that his experiences can be shared with the younger generation. “I think particularly African-American men in this country,” he said, “our sexual prowess, our manhood, our self-determination, our ego sometimes will force us to do things that we have no business doing.”
And finally, to show that there is still a need for Kilpatrick’s leadership another of his former constituents stated on his website, “I voted you in as mayor and I know it was something about you that was going to make some big changes in our city. You did a wonderful job when you were here and I thank you for all your good. I pray for you and your family everyday that this nightmare will be over. Right now, my family and I are going through hard times but if we were not, I would give to your fund. In the future, if things get better for us, I will be sending you something. We all need some kind of help sometime in our life. God bless you and your family.
To show your support for Kilpatrick, visit www.friendsofkwame.com.